Hospitality management graduate travels the country to support luxury hotels

January 22, 2020
Felicia Kelly
IMAGE: Felicia Kelly

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Felicia Kelly works as a senior food and beverage operations manager for Marriott International in Atlanta, but spends half of her time traveling to Marriott venues all over the country.

As a member of Marriott’s operations support resources team, the 2015 Penn State graduate with a degree in hospitality management assists upper upscale and luxury properties with tasks like organizational change, staffing, and even rolling out a new menu.

In one city, Kelly could be managing a change to the food and banquet services. In another she could be organizing luxury housekeeping services. While at her home base in Georgia, she supports food and beverage resources for Marriott properties in the Atlanta area.

“I absolutely love the travel aspect of my job. I get to go to a different city, I’m living in a hotel — it’s really like living the high life,” said Kelly, who has recently supported Marriott hotels in Charlotte, North Carolina and West South Beach, Florida. “But I also love that half of the time I get to come home, have friends, and have a regular work/life balance here in Atlanta.”

Before accepting the position with Marriott in Atlanta, Kelly had her heart set on moving to New York City. She also received job offers from properties in Chicago and New York City, but decided on Atlanta because of the career experience she could receive at an international hotel chain like Marriott.

Felicia Kelly (center) and fellow alumni at Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society event
IMAGE: Felicia Kelly

While she was weighing her options, Kelly turned to her mentor, alumna Ashley Akright, who graduated in 2009. The two were connected through the College of Health and Human Development’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), which cultivates core values, attitudes, and competencies for women in leadership roles.

The two are still in contact, and Kelly often turns to Akright for career and life advice. She also credits the WLI and her mentor relationship with helping her develop a leadership style that works for her and benefits her team at Marriott.

“Finding your own personal leadership style is so huge. Early in your career, there are many people that will have an influence on your style for the good and the bad. It’s important to find what works best for you and what feels good,” said Kelly who interned at the Westin Pittsburgh and served as secretary of the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society. 

“From there, you can better lead your team and give them the resources to develop their own leadership styles.”

Kelly says her experiences at Penn State and with the WLI has also helped her confidence.

“It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to humble yourself,” she said.  “Even though I’ve graduated from college, I’ll never be done learning. I’ll continue to be a student and learn from those around me.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 27, 2020