Top GMs from across Hilton discuss how they use recognition to motivate their team, improve performance, and address business objectives. Watch video.

Meet Our 2017 CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners.

We’ve spent the past year searching for the best of the best among Hilton’s owned, managed, and franchise properties—and we found them! Congratulations to our 2014 CEO Light & Warmth Award winners. These 12 champions have exceeded our expectations in every way, and embody our shared H-I-L-T-O-N values. This year’s winners will receive global recognition and a one-time bonus of US $10,000.



Sibya Ayoub: Always Going Above and Beyond

Coworkers of Siba’s consider her a machine because she never stops trying to help the hotel and those around her. Siba is always looking for ways to save money for the hotel and increase revenue. When the Public Relations Manager and Marketing Coordinator resigned in 2015, she covered both of their tasks in addition to her own to save the cost of replacements. She taught herself Photoshop instead of hiring a graphic designer and was responsible for the hotel’s social media posts, flyers, and marketing content for a whole year. After researching information about the cruise ships that stop in Aqaba, Siba took the initiative to visit the port’s information center and distribute 25% off vouchers to the hotel’s bar to attract more business. She has also helped to increase gym membership revenue and assists the Food & Beverage department by producing their banquet orders for events. Siba enjoys the opportunity to help her team and interact with guests and she frequently offers to take Manager on Duty shifts, especially during Ramadan when her colleagues are fasting most of the day. She has also helped to teach English to Team Members who want to need to improve their proficiency for work.

She and her team have visited a local school for autistic children to surprise them with school bags, they have distributed cookies to an orphan village, she offered to babysit a job candidate’s child on her day off so the mother could interview at the hotel, and she has brought recognition to the forefront by frequently posting Team Member accomplishments and nominating them for awards. Siba has been the CARE Committee President for less than 2 years and played a key role in the hotel winning the EMEA CARE Cup in 2017. She recently received recognition at the HR EMEA Conference as Talent Professional of the Year and the award for Best Team Member Engagement. As one Team Member states in her nomination, “Siba adds great value to our property; her passion is contagious.”



Amila Botheju: A Leader at the Hotel and In the Community

Amila is a talented, resourceful and generous leader in the hotel and community. He is not only a leader in the property’s restaurant but also the Champion of the Blue Energy Committee. Since the moment he stepped foot in the hotel kitchens, he has been determined to make operations more efficient. He was able to reduce the usage of oil in the Team Member restaurant from 8.5 to 2 liters a day and introduce a salad counter as a healthier option, something the team had never experienced before. When Amila later joined the Sri Lankan specialty restaurant, Curry Leaf, he noticed it was struggling in all areas. Amila took the time to train the team and lead them into becoming a high-performing crew, determined to deliver positive results. He has created positive business results for the owners by reducing food costs and increased revenue by 7% in 2017. The Curry Leaf is now one of the city’s most exclusive Sri Lankan restaurants and thanks to his skills in authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, Amila’s dishes were added to the menu at the Hilton Warsaw where he was also chosen to train chefs at the hotel for a Sri Lankan cuisine special. Not only does he function as a departmental trainer but he also guides his team to participate in competitions like the Chef Guild Culinary Championship to grow their confidence. Because of Amila’s efforts to organize team and community related activities, he has helped to improve the hotel’s Global Team Member Survey Engagement scores by 7 points and Trust scores by 8 points.

As the Blue Energy Leader, Amila has helped take part in the painting and repair of a room in a local school for the deaf and blind and later organized a Christmas party for them. He personally spent time to help Team Members repair their homes after floods in the area and also coordinated a beach clean up event around the hotel. Under Amila’s direction, 800 baskets of food were packed and prepared for hotel Team Members at the annual Team Member party. Team Members and guests alike look forward to being at the Hilton Colombo because of Amila’s spirit of hospitality.



Alex Bury: A Shining Example of Our Values

In the Fall of 1983, Alex was reading the local newspaper and noticed an advertisement for a Laundry Attendant job. He has been sharing his unique and genuine warmth at the property ever since. In the nearly 10,000 days he has worked, he has never had a safety incident and only called in sick twice. He takes pride in the important role that the laundry operations play in guest service and his priority is making sure everything runs at peak efficiency. It is not uncommon to see Alex offering rides to coworkers, offering his knowledge and resources, and even sharing the peaches he picks from his own orchard. He also helps the hotel by promoting open positions at his church for those needing employment.

However impressive his results have been at work, they are dwarfed by the kindness of his heart. Alex lives, breathes, and completely embodies the Hilton values and Purpose, even giving the shirt off his back to help others. Recently, Alex witnessed a horrific crash on the freeway and knew people would be injured, so he stopped his car on the side of the road to help. He noticed that one passenger was losing generous amounts of blood and took his shirt off to wrap it around her head until paramedics arrived. Always looking to give of himself, Alex has donated blood every 56 days since 1978. Incredibly, he has donated enough blood to save over 250 lives. He not only shares his heart and concern for others, but also his home. He and his wife have taken 3 adults into their house who are not able to take care of themselves and provided for them like family. Their shelter, food, and other expenses have been paid for by Alex. He has never asked for help, he just works harder. He is a humble man and an inspiration to all.

As one Team Member said in Alex’s nomination, “There are few people in any company that contribute the way he has and for as long as he has. He is special and his dependability, attitude, effort and enthusiasm will be a legacy that our employee culture will build upon for a long time to come.”



Pam Calhoun: A Bright Start to Every Day-And Every Stay

Pam first began working in laundry before her manager noticed her keen eye for Hamptonality. Today, Pam is the breakfast host who not only welcomes Guests to the hotel, she welcomes them home. Pam starts her mornings at 4am but never really clocks out. Whether it is her off day or not, she drives fellow Team Members to work because she doesn’t want them taking the bus or paying for rides. She also drives her neighbors and friends to the grocery store because they don’t have the means to do so and cuts coupons not for her own groceries, but for others.

The hotel is near the University of South Florida and during graduation season Pam buys cards and balloons to give the guests and graduates that are staying at the hotel. Pam has a special place in her heart for children and has created a treasure box of toys that she surprises them with each morning. In fact, several years ago a child and his mother were staying at the hotel while the mother was finishing her internship. Each day, Pam would spend time with the boy while his mother was busy and every year since, the guests have made a return visit just to surprise Pam. The hotel is located near the Moffitt Cancer Center and Pam makes a point to send well wishes, hugs, and encouragement to guests who are undergoing treatment. Patrons of the hotel have written letters to compliment Pam on her versatile ability to entertain children and parents one moment, then turn around and console sick guests the next, all while keeping the food warm, the coffee hot, and offering a heartfelt “Welcome Back” to those who have returned to the property.

Pam’s leadership is a guiding light for her team. Several months ago Pam took a day off to visit a local water park with her family and received word that water was filling the laundry room. Sure enough, Pam showed up in her water park gear and started sopping up the water while waiting for the engineer to arrive. And when a tearful guest came up to Pam distraught about how her bag of medication had been thrown away, Pam put on a pair of gloves and went through the bags in the dumpster until the bag containing $3000 of medication was found.

Pam has a heart of gold and after completing her shift one morning, she came back to the hotel to bring another employee food to eat because she heard they were eating out of the garbage. Four years ago Pam won the Spirit of Hampton award and her team states that watching her receive the cash prize was like watching her win a million dollars. It shouldn’t surprise you that she used the money to help others. There’s a reason Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North ranks 4th on TripAdvisor, is in the top 13% of the brand in TQS scores, and has a 13% lead over the brand average in Breakfast Helpfulness of Staff SALT scores. Her name is Pam Calhoun and she lives to fill the world with the light and warmth of hospitality.



Jasbeer Dawar: Living Hilton’s Purpose by Helping Others Discover Theirs

Jasbeer is a loyal and essential part of the successful kitchen team. He joined the hotel in pre-opening stages as a Sous Chef and has progressed in his career over the years to Executive Chef. He is a key member of the management team and a supportive mentor to the kitchen brigade and wider community. He encourages the achievements of the kitchen team, has helped nearly a dozen of his crew to be promoted, and ensures everyone is recognized for their efforts. Jasbeer is a supportive lead mentor for Project Search interns, an internship opportunity that the hotel offers for young adults with learning disabilities. The project has also been recognized by the caterer.com People Awards as a winner in the Emerging Talent category. One of the Project Search candidates is now employed as a full time Commis chef at the hotel. Jasbeer recently rolled out an entirely new menu for the Gallery Restaurant introducing specialty meats and working with small local suppliers. The new menu has been well received by guests and is resulting in an increase in revenue.

Jasbeer loves to engage with the wider community and each term, he invites the classes with the highest attendance records to come to the hotel and participate in a pizza and dessert making event. He also devised and led a program at Slough and Eton School to teach basic cookery skills to support students’ transitions to University where he gave live cooking demonstrations to over 100 students. He attends local schools and career fairs to promote careers at Hilton and he has twice appeared as a judge for the Exercise Joint Caterer competition at the Defence Academy. During Global Month of Service, Jasbeer led his kitchen team to prepare and serve a large amount of beef stew at a local homeless shelter. He was also able to work with the hotel’s food suppliers to donate to the Foodbank for the last few years.

Jasbeer has hosted a lunch and cake event for a group of Age-Concerned clients who were delighted with the attention and kindness they received. According to his nomination, he is a leader, inspiration, and delight to everyone he comes in contact with.



Lucas Haiputa: Living Purposefully. Serving Generously.

Lucas has been a Recreational Attendant since the hotel opened in 2011. He is not only an ambassador for Hilton’s Vision at the hotel but also plays a vital part in the development of the community by making a lasting impact on the lives of young children. A natural philanthropist, Lucas has the will to succeed and wanted to provide a better future for the vulnerable children in the area. He realized there was a need for child protection, especially in an area where violence is widespread and most people live in poor conditions. Because their families survive on a day-to-day basis and cannot afford schools, these children normally spend their time in the streets without food until their parents return home.

Lucas wanted to provide a safe place for children to experience the light and warmth of hospitality, so he developed the idea for a preschool aftercare and built it from the ground up by contributing what little he had. This project took him eight months without any financial assistance. The materials like chairs, cupboards, kitchenware, and educational toys were purchased by Lucas with savings from his salary and assistance from his family. The Severn Kindergarten was officially established on August 9th, 2016 in a rural shanty town in Katutura, Windhoek, Namibia. He acquired teaching materials from a Teachers Resource Centre and coordinated volunteer nurses to be available in case children are sick or injured. Severn Kindergarten now hosts 25 children a day where they are fed, bathed, and taught preschool activities to develop their educational level. No income is received for this project, only donations and his current salary earned at the Hilton Windhoek to provide the basic needs for the children. Lucas’ values align with Hilton’s and he continues to serve the guests, hotel and community with the same Hospitality, Integrity, Leadership, Teamwork, Ownership, and sense of Now that he’s shared since the day he found his Purpose at Hilton.



Kay Jackson: Engineering a Better World

Looking to broaden her skillset, Kay left the world of interior design 18 years ago and moved to the Hilton Northampton where she has been able to share the light and warmth of hospitality in numerous ways. She gained experience in each department of the hotel, eventually working her way up to manage the Engineering team. With the support of Hilton, Kay has gained her national certifications in Occupational Safety as well as Advanced Food Hygiene.

She has driven sustainability and helped the hotel to earn such awards as Green Hotel of the Year and other Eco recognitions. In 2016 alone, her efforts to improve hotel efficiency and conserve energy helped to make a savings of nearly $80,000 in Property Operations Maintenance and Energy Costs, in addition to a year-over-year improvement of Overall Accommodation SALT scores.

In her tenure, she has helped train over 20 Duty Managers on property and was asked to develop a worldwide online learning platform for Hilton Engineering, in which 720 individuals have already participated. She also co-wrote the Hilton Engineering Apprenticeship training guide currently being used at nine hotels to develop our Chief Engineers of the future. In addition, Kay represents Hilton as a Government Trailblazer where she has written a National Apprenticeship scheme for Maintenance careers. She is a role model for women pursuing engineering.

Her desire to help others inspired her to organize an event during the summer called “Drowning Prevention Week.” Organizing a team from the hotel, Kay and her crew distributed 27,000 information packs to young people in the community to educate them about the dangers of open water. To launch the week, she and her team took photos and publicity shots, which were later used by the Royal Life Saving Society. Her community outreach also includes strengthening a connection with the local Hope Centre and organizing Team Members to help provide hot lunches, organize store rooms, paint public areas and call Bingo. She has also provided work experience for two individuals from the homeless shelter where she trained them and acted as a work reference so they could go on to acquire full time jobs. Kay has brought Hilton’s Purpose, Vision, and Mission to life with her contributions to the company, community, hotel, and guests.



Jessica Kerns: Fighting Fire with Warmth

Jessica is a true hero: selfless, generous, and driven to do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal. In 2007, Jessica started at the property as a Catering Administrative Assistant before advancing to Catering Manager. Her passion is event planning and she took a job with an event planning company nearby, however, she enjoyed working at the DoubleTree so much that she stayed on as a Bartender. Since then, she has single-handedly been responsible for referring more than $55,000 in outside business to the hotel. She has not only impacted the hotel’s revenue but her team too, even cooking food on a regular basis for a coworker who had recently taken a job as a police officer to ensure he was eating healthy meals.

“Santa Rosa is on fire” were the texts that came flooding into the hotel management team the morning the fires began taking over the county in October. But Jessica didn’t call out of work; she had other plans. That morning, Jessica notified her manager that she was on the way with her SUV full of clothes for the displaced and asked if one of the banquet spaces could be turned into a drop off location. Taking full responsibility for the effort, she set up tables in the 1250 sq. ft. room and began organizing donations. What she assumed would be a 2-3 day event turned into a week long burn impacting thousands of local residents. When a Team Member who had lost her home came to the donation room, Jessica not only offered for her to take anything she needed but gave her Walmart gift cards that she had personally bought. Word spread quickly and Jessica began receiving donations in the thousands. She expanded into the ballroom and other meeting rooms and soon donors like Costco and Target were dropping off pallets of water and other supplies.
Jessica then turned the donation center into distribution center, sending out trucks full of donations to shelters to supply them with needed items.

At largest, Jessica effectively utilized and managed nearly 100 volunteers and 10,000 sq. ft. of space. She worked 15 hours a day for 9 days straight. She also provided information on resources that people could access if they needed additional assistance during the evacuation. From an SUV of clothes to a ballroom filled with over $1.5 Million in donated clothes, cash, gift cards and food, Jessica became the heartbeat of the hotel and community. After touring the donation center, one Area Vice President even commented “I can’t believe one person coordinated all of this.” Jessica’s only request in return? A room at the hotel for her parents while they helped with the volunteering efforts since their house had been lost in the fire.



Lissette Landestoy: A Light of Hospitality in the Storm

Lissette oversees supply management for the Caribbean and Latin American properties and supports our hotels with all their needs, from identifying a distribution chain for grocery supplies to finding service providers for laundry. Having worked up through the ranks in the hotel industry, she knows the value our Team Members bring to our mission and won’t pass up the opportunity to speak to staff in all areas of the hotel. At the beginning of the year, Lissette worked on her own time with top grocery and equipment suppliers in Puerto Rico to set up exclusive discount programs for Hilton Team Members. She revealed these programs as a surprise to the hotel teams during Team Member Appreciation Week.

This year’s hurricane season was exceptionally difficult for Puerto Rico, Lissette’s home base. When the island was hit by Irma, the hotels were spared but the community wasn’t, so Lissette personally purchased a pallet of water to hand out to anyone in need. A week later, Maria devastated the island and damaged all nine of Hilton’s properties. Lissette left her family to go to the hotels, wanting to help wherever she could. Navigating from property to property, she captured a list of the items they needed. As communications systems became available, the regional team in the U.S. mobilized a barge to transport relief items to San Juan and Lissette became the point person for the trajectory of the barge. She volunteered to manage the process of receiving, documenting, sorting, and distributing seven container loads full of emergency relief supplies and signed up 40 volunteers to help assemble care kits. Under Lissette’s instruction, 3,200 boxes were assembled for our Team Members and their families, totaling more than 14,500 people helped by Hilton.

Since the initial distribution of care packages, Lissette has received two more containers of emergency supplies. She arranged for these items to be inventoried and stored for a second round of care kits for the 230 Team Members that lost their homes and possessions. Through the entire experience, her positive personality never waivered. When this award nomination was submitted a month after the hurricane hit, Lissette was still without power, however she continues to visit hotels daily; carrying with her the light of hope for our team in Puerto Rico.



Luz Pallens: Brightening the World with Hospitality

For 14 years, Luz’s team, guests, and community have all benefitted from her thoughtful and hospitable actions. Luz’s priority is for guests to have an unforgettable stay. Each Christmas, Luz volunteers to decorate the hotel with Christmas decorations, including plants, wall decorations and Christmas trees. One Christmas Eve, a couple approached Luz and confided that their son was sad that he would not be able to have a traditional Christmas where he wakes up to see gifts under the tree. Luz asked the couple to entertain their son outside of the room for 20 minutes and when the family returned, a fully decorated Christmas tree was waiting for them, much to the child’s delight. She has also been known to surprise other guests with amenities and personalized notes just to thank them for their visit. And when a flood or other situation prevents housekeeping Team Members from getting to the property during a busy day, Luz always steps in to help clean rooms so the team can keep up.

Luz has expressed how important it is to give back through her actions. When the hotel’s Make a Difference committee renovated the garden of an elderly center at Dorado, she was so passionate about this activity that she decided to donate and plant some of the plants from her own house to the center. She also spent an afternoon with her team donating school supplies and entertaining children at the Local Boys Home. In addition to her participation on this committee, Luz has been actively involved in other initiatives outside of the hotel. This has included donating clothes and money to purchase medicine for another elderly center (Hogar San Rafael), where she frequently assists in reading to the residents and feeding them. Luz also helps at the local Head Start centers, where she feeds the children, prepares arts and crafts, and donates toys so they can play in a healthy environment. When Hurricane Maria hit the island and debris was scattered around the property, Luz immediately went to work, picking up the broken pieces of the hotel that she considers a second home. She then began helping Housekeeping to clean and scrub the guest rooms, which was key to making the hotel operational again. She sets a great example of what the power of Teamwork can accomplish.



Ryan Preston: Reinforcing a Culture of Family at Hilton

“To be in the presence of someone who inspires you every day was not something I expected at work, but that is exactly what Ryan does,” states one of his Team Members. Ryan has created a family culture among his staff, guests, and community and his genuine care can be seen in the many examples his team submitted. When one Team Member came home to find his living room ceiling collapsed, Ryan dropped everything and came to help. He stayed through the evening assisting to clean the area, repair the issue, and put the room back together. When another teammate was having problems with her washer and dryer, Ryan came over and fixed both, saving her family the cost of buying a new one. He also helped replace an alternator in her car so she could safely take a vacation. When the breakfast hostess was having some personal issues and checked herself into rehab, she afraid she would lose her job, but Ryan assured her it would be there when she returned. He saw potential in a new Team Member who was trying to save money for a car and on days when she was not able to find transportation to work (she lives in the country) he would come pick her up without complaint. When his Operations Manager moved to a different city, he offered to drive the U-Haul three hours there, help them unload and drive three hours back. Since Ryan has been at the hotel, they have acquired multiple Outstanding ratings on their QA audits (something not achieved until he arrived), several Hall of Fame awards, and some of the highest SALT scores the hotel has seen since they opened their doors.

His actions towards guests are no less generous. When a funeral group comes to the hotel, Ryan personally purchases flowers and cards for each of the rooms. When a mother came to the hotel to spend time with her daughter and Ryan discovered she was going through a difficult divorce, he surprised her with a spa day to help lift her spirits. A construction crew stayed at the hotel for two years and when the job was done, one of the gentlemen decided he wanted to stay in the town as he needed a fresh start. Ryan set up a payment plan with him to stay at the hotel and then helped find him a place to live by scouring the internet, checking the classifieds, and even helped him acquire a job. When Ryan noticed that a frequent guest was staying at the hotel but seemed a little depressed, he organized a hiking trip with the hotel team and invited her along. It completely brightened her day. He is also active in the community by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, coaching little league, and sitting on the board of the local visitors council. He helped spearhead an event called Alive @ 5 because he felt the town needed to be more engaged with each other. It is an event open to the public where people can enjoy live music, food, and activities for children.



Adrienne Putelli: Making Waves in the World of Hospitality

Adrienne’s contributions to Hilton, her hotel, team, and community are making waves in the world of hospitality. For three decades, she has worked at Hiltons in Australia and the Middle East. She is passionate about Thrive, Blue Energy, and creating careers that are individualized and meaningful for her team. She guest lectures at universities and has helped many colleagues advance in their careers.

There is an ever-growing list of accomplishments she has led. She recently steered an effort with the hotel management team to sleep under a local bridge during the coldest night of the year with nothing but a sleeping bag and cardboard to bring awareness to homelessness and raise $10,000 for St. Vincent de Paul. Before heading to the Hilton Fiji for vacation last year, she contacted the hotel and asked what she could do to help. The result was a drive at her children’s school, where she collected over 6,000 coloring pencils and school supplies for Fiji. When the 2011 floods destroyed the McIntyre Center, a facility that offers horse riding for disabled children, Adrienne gathered 45 Team Members and Area Vice Presidents to paint, repave, and help get the facility operational again. She has forged a relationship with Oz Harvest, a food rescue organization, where she coordinates a lasagna bake and canned food donation. Whether she is hosting a tea at a local elderly center with her own fine china, repurposing old hotel equipment to those in need, or collecting items for abused women, you will find Adrienne at the helm, inspiring her team and the community.

Adrienne’s actions speak volumes about what she believes in: preserving the environment. She launched the Rooftop Beehives and vegetable garden at the hotel where honey and food are collected and served to guests. Adrienne teaches the importance of recycling to the team and invited students from a university to study how the hotel could be more sustainable. The hotel now recycles 100% of it’s waste. Her efforts have helped Hilton Brisbane receive the Queensland Hotel Association’s Awards for Excellence in Community Service, Best Environment Initiative, and Best Training Initiative. She has arranged nationally recognized training qualifications for her team to help them expand their skills and stand apart from competitors. Seeking partnerships to benefit Hilton and the community, Adrienne has also sought the opportunity to work alongside Multicultural Development Australia to train refugees, migrants, and disadvantaged individuals, providing them with a solid career foundation. That’s only a sample of what she’s done in her first three decades at Hilton. Imagine what she will do next.



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Posted on Mar 2, 2018

Topic(s): CEO Light & Warmth Award

Merilyn (Home2 Suites St. Louis/Forest Park) says

Congratulations to the winners! Your passion for hospitality is a gift to the Hilton Brand, thank you and stay encouraged.

Commented on July 1, 2018

Monica Wainwright (Doubletree by HIlton Denver-Aurora) says

CONGRATULATION!! To each one of the winners, Team Members like you are an inspiration for all of us, Thank you for sharing the light and warmth of hospitality in numerous ways. Keep up the good work.

Commented on September 26, 2018

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