Sunday, February 1, 2004

Hotelier believes in being decisive

[IMAGE] Michel A. Sheer, managing director of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, is an unapologetic booster of downtown.
(Gary Landers photo)
Michel Sheer - who was born in Paris, reared in New Jersey and now calls Cincinnati home - has a core belief about how companies, cities and regions can put their best foot forward each and every day.

As managing director of downtown's Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Sheer spent the past three months pitching the merits of Cincinnati to companies and trade associations along the Eastern Seaboard. He has a solid notion about the basics of hospitality and about leadership: Identify your assets, and then tell the world.

Who: Michel Sheer, 47, managing director of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
Grew up: Tinton Falls, N.J.
Style of leadership most admired: Courage. I admire President Bush because he had courage to act. He's taken his responsibility seriously and had courage to confront things that others did not. I admire that direct action.
Self-described leadership style: Participatory
Time on the job each day: 11 to 12 hours
Ultimate career goal: This is it. I'm in my ultimate career goal, the president of a small hotel company. We do some development, and it's what I've worked my entire career to do. I'm applying what I've learned in 27 years.
First job: Dishwasher on an Army base in New Jersey, and I learned everything I needed to know from the drill sergeants and the ladies in the kitchen I worked around. For them, it was a profession. For me, it was a summer job. It taught me the value of hard work, discipline and that there really isn't anything that isn't your job.
"The key thing for all of us is to deal honestly and forthrightly with issues, but we should not be afraid to sell our city and have visitors to come here because it's a fabulous place - a terrific town," said Sheer, 47, who has lived in Cincinnati and been associated with the hotel for 13 years.

He has been a visible downtown advocate in recent years. "I make no apologies about it," he says.

Leaders need to take decisive action, he says. So when local tourism officials last year contracted with Sasha Corp. to offer a hospitality how-to for frontline workers, Sheer immediately signed up 30 of his employees and managers - even though he knew they already did an exemplary job of catering to guests, welcoming visitors and selling their city.

Leaders also need to look beyond the negative TV portrayals, he says: "Certainly there are issues here like other communities, but people need to know and realize that this is a community that cares and it's a great place to be."

John Eckberg

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