School of Hospitality Management names Frits van Paasschen as Conti Professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State School of Hospitality Management named Frits van Paasschen, president and chief executive officer of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. as the Spring 2013 Walter J. Conti Visiting Professor. Conti Professors visit the School of Hospitality Management to interact with students and faculty members, to present guest lectures in hospitality management and to speak at graduate and undergraduate colloquia.

"Frits brings to the school a wealth of cutting-edge knowledge and experience about branding in the hospitality industry based on his tenure at Starwood since 2007 where he has nurtured such esteemed brands as W, Westin, Aloft and St. Regis," said John O'Neill, director of the school. "We are delighted that Frits and several Penn State alumni at Starwood were able to spend time with our students to discuss this dynamic industry and their personal experiences, and to give career advice."

Van Paasschen visited the School of Hospitality Management during the Spring 2013 semester for a presentation to over 200 hospitality students about what he calls 'The Age of Great Change' and Starwood's global perspective on the hospitality industry. His visit also included a roundtable with student leaders and faculty members, which allowed for vibrant discussions about leadership and the organization.   

Van Paasschen has spent most of his career working for global lifestyle brands. Prior to joining Starwood, he served as president and chief executive officer of Coors Brewing Company, where he turned around both market share and profitability. Before working at Coors, van Paasschen held several global executive positions at Nike. He ran Nike’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, doubling its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) over four years. He was a vice president in finance at Disney Consumer Products, and he began his career as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company.

Recently, van Paasschen was appointed to serve on the board of Barclays PLC. Previously, he served as chairman of the European-American Industrial Council and as a director of two companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Jones Apparel Group and Oakley. He was a lecturer in economics at Harvard University and has been a guest host on CNBC's "Squawk Box."  He currently serves on Conservation International’s Business Advisory Board. Van Paasschen speaks five languages and has both Dutch and U.S. citizenship. 

Van Paasschen holds a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree in economics and biology from Amherst College. An avid sportsman, he has competed in a variety of endurance events, including 12 marathons, Europe’s longest running relay and the Pikes Peak Ascent. Van Paasschen is based at Starwood’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn. He and his family reside in Connecticut. 

Starwood is the world's largest and most global operator of high-end hotels, with about 1,150 properties in 100 countries. Its nine brands are: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element. In addition to hotels, Starwood operates premier time-share ownership resorts.

Walter J. Conti, for whom the Conti Professorship is named, is a well-known restaurateur and industry leader from Doylestown, Pa. He is the retired owner and chief executive officer of Conti Cross Keys Inn and the Historic Piper Tavern (formerly Conti's Pipersville Inn), both located in Bucks County, Pa. Conti has held various leadership positions in the National Restaurant Association, including a term as chairman from 1981 to 1982, and he is a "diplomat" of the association's educational foundation. The Conti Professorship Program was established by alumni and friends of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management in 1987 to honor Walter J. Conti for his contributions to the school, to Penn State and to the hospitality profession. 

Last Updated June 19, 2013