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Wyndham’s Faith Taylor Speaks on Leadership through Going Green

Written by: Julie Achilles

“Follow your passion.” These are three simple words that Faith Taylor, the newest Executive in Residence at Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality (STHM), lives by each day.

Growing up in the green city of Seattle, Taylor developed a passion for the environment at an early age. This enthusiasm has contributed to the success of her career today as Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at Wyndham Worldwide.

Wyndham Worldwide is one of the largest tourism and hospitality franchises in the world, with over 7,000 hotels, 200,000 vacation rental accommodations and the world’s largest timeshare exchange.

Taylor, who graduated from Stanford University, was involved in brand marketing before obtaining her MBA in business administration from the Wharton School of Business. For the past six years, she has been working for Wyndham to develop new products and services that boost ecotourism and promote more efficient energy use.

“The whole green movement is not a trend or fad, it’s actually a change in social consciousness,” said Taylor, to a classroom of aspiring tourism, hospitality and event managers. She explained that the transition process can begin by recycling, using better light bulbs and less water, planting trees and promoting more smoke-free facilities. “10 years from now, it will be second nature to us,” added Taylor.

Despite competition from other forward-thinking industry giants like Hilton and Marriot, Wyndham Worldwide was named the #2 Most Admired Company in America in Fortune Magazine in 2007. Awards were based on company features such as innovation, people management, financial strategies, social responsibility and product quality.

“Quality is all about how you treat each other and how you communicate,” explained Taylor, who stressed the value of good business practices, accountability and partnerships in a global market.

With global business expanding, Wyndham is truly a paradigm of international collaboration. Taylor described the importance of allowing for cultural variation and diversity of thought, using the example of a spa project she is working on with China. “If we haven’t embraced diversity, we’re not going to do a good job of growing,” said Taylor, referencing her own half-Japanese, half-African American heritage.

For Wyndham, technology remains the most efficient way to stay connected with the world. “The Internet has made the global market a level playing field,” said Taylor, explaining how each decision made here in the U.S. affects a change abroad.

Recently, for example, Nintendo Wii has approached Wyndham about installing full gaming systems in all of their health clubs and bars around the world. “We’re learning, growing and moving forward!” said Taylor, whose responsibility it is to service the customers’ changing needs through eco-friendly means.

Taylor also advised students on the fluctuating international economy and market trends. “Be flexible and be able to embrace change,” she said. “If you are contributing to the community, you’ll be able to push through any economic crisis,” concluded Taylor.

“I thought everything she said about the economy was very motivational and extremely relevant to what we’re learning,” commented junior STHM student, Caitlin McDermott.

Taylor offered some insight from having worked with many different types of people over the years. She said, “Leaders have a vision, they are results-oriented, they have emotional connections and they are collaborative.” She encouraged students to take initiative by exploring opportunities and managing their own experiences.

Taylor is a living example of taking control and following her passion. Once told by industry professionals that her job position was not important, Taylor worked to make ecological issues central to the future of Wyndham. “Six years later, I’ve been able to prove them wrong,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s about saving the environment,” she reminded. “I truly believe the green movement is our ticket to innovate.”

After the presentation, Greg DeShields, STHM’s Senior Director of Corporate Relations, commented, “Wyndham Worldwide and the diversity of Faith Taylor’s world has a lot of value for these students. Innovation is truly a burning issue in today’s world.”