There are many entry points to a career in hospitality, with some not as obvious as others and even others which may seem like the polar opposite of what is traditionally expected. Regardless of where they started, here are industry leaders who have chosen hospitality as their path after testing the waters elsewhere.

Click the names to view the details of their paths and see what roles they had to get them to where they are now.


  • Diego Fiori: Counselor at Riverside Community Care Administration → General Manager at No. 9 Park

  • Dianna DaoheungAssistant Account Executive at Merkley & Partners → Co-Founder of Black Seed Bagels & Entrepreneur in Residence at Hot Bread Kitchen

  • Erika ChouSenior Producer at Industry Productions → Co-Founder & CEO of Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group

  • Julia ConeyLegal Word Processor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP → Founder of Black Wine Professionals

  • Mailea WegerSales Senior / Visual Merchandiser at Tocca → Chef/Owner of LOU

  • Robert LeBlancCo-Founder & Vice-President at Renaissance Records → Founder and Creative Director of LeBLANC+SMITH

  • Sarah RobbinsCaptain/Quartermaster Corps (U.S. Army Reserves) → Chief Operating Officer of 21c Museum Hotels

  • Thomas MaroulakosAssistant Manager at Barney’s New York Co-Op → Managing Partner & CEO at Skopos Hospitality Group