While earning a business administration degree at Villanova University, Robert J. McCarthy started waiting tables at a restaurant inside a Philadelphia-area Marriott hotel in 1975.
Little did he know that Marriott would be the only company he would work for in a 38-year career.
McCarthy, the Bethesda hotel giant’s COO, will retire in February, company officials said this week. The 60-year-old executive has held a wide variety of positions within the company throughout his career.
“Bob has been an admired business leader, sought-after mentor and trusted colleague, both at Marriott and in the hospitality community,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement. “Bill Marriott has often noted Bob’s career success as a credit to his hard work, but also as an example of the vitality of our company culture that promotes opportunity.”
From the waiter position, McCarthy advanced to become regional director of sales and marketing for Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites by 1982. He became a vice president for operations and marketing for the Fairfield Inn and Courtyard brands in 1991, then senior vice president for the Northeast region of Marriott Lodging in 1995.
McCarthy moved up to executive vice president for operations planning and support for Marriott Lodging in 2000, when the company operated or franchised about 2,000 properties. That number has almost doubled since then. He eventually became group president across the Americas and global lodging services, overseeing operations at more than 3,000 hotels and 120,000 employees. McCarthy has remained active in his alma mater, as he was appointed to Villanova’s board of trustees earlier this year. He formerly was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Villanova University School of Business and the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
Last year, McCarthy, whom a spokeswoman said was unavailable for comment, made $804,403 in salary and total compensation of $4.4 million, which included more that $2 million in stock awards and options, according to Marriott’s most recent proxy statement. The compensation was 22 percent higher than in 2011.
Rather than appoint another COO right away, Marriott plans to give several other executives broader responsibilities. Dave Grissen, group president, will focus on global operations and oversee the Americas.
Stephanie Linnartz, executive vice president and chief brand marketing and commercial officer, will assume leadership of technology.