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From Literature to Leadership

Hotel general manager Scott Gladney believes empowering employees results in a happy team and guests.

By Beth Buehler

Education is a huge priority for Scott Gladney. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English and while working on a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, he found hospitality to be unexpectedly attractive as a career path while working a night job at a hotel. Before long, he was a hotel general manager at age 25.

Upon arrival in The Mile High City in 2013, Gladney worked as general manager for Element Denver Park Meadows before becoming a regional brand operations manager for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide/Marriott International in Bethesda, Maryland.

This year, he graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver. While he was in graduate school in the city, he has served as general manager of the 150-room, on-campus SpringHill Suites by Marriott for Sage Hospitality, a job he has held since he returned to Denver in 2017. He is especially proud of the team he has developed, which contributed to the profitability of the property throughout the course of the pandemic.

“Every dollar of profit goes back to MSU, so we operate like a nonprofit entity,” he says. “We usually have up to 10 MSU students working at the hotel, which adds to my love of this job. The students make it far more rewarding.”

Gladney and his director of sales, Brittany Maestas, serve as affiliate professors of hospitality at MSU, illustrating the close connection that the hotel has to the university’s hospitality department, which has a learning center physically connected to the property. “It is exciting to help students understand the nuances of hospitality leadership and the multitude of tangible career paths in hospitality,” Gladney says.

Gladney’s office is adorned with numerous awards from Marriott and Sage Hospitality and smiley faces—his team’s logo of happiness. He explains, “Previously, the guest was always first, but that is different now. We want guests to come back of course, but we can’t do that without a happy and stimulated team.”