2013 Orlando Businesswoman of the Year Became GM One Step at a Time
Pat Engfer, now general manager at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, was recently named 2013 Orlando Businesswoman of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal. Given Pat’s more than 36-year tenure with the Hyatt family, we wanted to learn more about steps she took that led her to her outstanding success today.
Following graduation, Pat accepted a job as Concierge with Hyatt in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She quickly moved into the position of Recreation Manager and soon participated in the Corporate Management Trainee program. From there, Pat put her traveling shoes on, moving from Hyatt hotels in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, serving in a number of different roles that helped take her to the next step in her career. With the last stop in Los Angeles, Pat then spent the next 12 years of her Hyatt career in Southern California advancing in various positions before becoming General Manager at Hyatt City of Commerce.
“I can’t say that I immediately knew I wanted to be a General Manager when I started with Hyatt, but I knew that whatever job I was in I wanted the next step,” says Pat. “So slowly I just built a career one step at a time and before I knew it I had achieved a goal I hadn’t initially realized I had when I started with Hyatt all those years before.”
Throughout this time Pat was lucky enough to have been introduced to Cheryl Phelps and Linda O’Toole, Hyatt’s first and second female General Managers, respectively, whom she says served as mentors to her.
“Both of them really gave me the confidence that being General Manager was something that was truly obtainable,” Pat said. “In addition to these outstanding businesswomen that I considered close friends, I had many role models in my field and within the community during this time that I sought out for support and mentoring. Even today, almost 40 years into my career, I continue to seek out individuals who have skills that I admire, so that I can learn from them.”
One of the things Pat notes as a key element of her success is her husband, Don. He has been incredibly supportive of her career, and Pat says she married the âright guyâ who helped her become so successful at balancing work and life. For example, his support allowed them to move their family, including their two children, from Newport Beach to Orlando about 20 years ago. Additionally, Don was an equally active partner in caring for their children, which made it such that Pat’s kids never had to live in the hotel and were able to have a normal childhood of playing in the yard, neighborhood friends, and riding the bus to school.
“Working at a hotel in an airport means that there’s constant vitality, constant excitement and always an element of the unknown,” Pat said. “When a plane might not be able to pull away from the gate and they give us a call and say, ‘Do you have room for 200 people?’ it’s just fabulous. It’s a wonderful hotel, and I couldn’t be happier being here.”
And the hotel couldn’t be any happier with her either. Guest feedback continues to glow, and Pat’s connection with her colleagues all throughout the hotel is unmistakable. These relationships helped the hotel earn the 2012 Best Places to Work award in Orlando and second place for the same award in 2013.
“She’s very interested in us personally as well as professionally,” said Chef David Didzunas. “I can always go to her and say, ‘Well Pat, I’m thinking about doing this and that to my house. What do you think?’ And that will turn into us going out shopping on a Saturday and she’ll help me pick out drapes for the house. That’s a great boss and it’s a lot of fun.”
Congratulations Pat on all of her individual and career successes! Hyatt is lucky to have you as part of our team.