Pillsbury '82 boards his Raytheon Beechcraft Premier in
Baltimore. He and his spouse, Mary, have been flying for
more than five years.
Profile: Leland C. Pillsbury '82
EMBA experience opens doors of opportunity in hospitality
industry for '82 alum
decades later, the former soda jerk is still in the hospitality
industry, only now he sits atop a $1 billion conglomerate
with interests around the globe.
force behind his trajectory: his 1982 Kellogg EMBA degree,
which Pillsbury says opened his eyes to a world of business
only did it give me a new set of skills, but it gave me a
very broad perspective," says Pillsbury, co-chairman
and CEO of Thayer Lodging Group. He is also chairman or co-chairman
of TIG Global, the largest online hospitality marketing company;
Thayer Insurance Group, a commercial insurance company; EMC
Venues, a resort and conference center representation firm;
and HQant, a hospitality and finance consulting company.
all the same field, but I've moved across many different parts
of it," Pillsbury says. "It was the perspectives
and knowledge I gained at Kellogg that enabled me to do that."
the time he enrolled in 1980, Pillsbury had just become general
manager of the Marriott Resort in Lincolnshire, Ill. "It
was at an ideal point in my career," he says. "I'd
just been given a lot of new responsibilities, and the Kellogg
format and content, and the strength of the faculty, made
it obvious that this was the right place to go."
a service professional, Pillsbury was particularly impressed
by the Kellogg School's devotion to customer satisfaction.
"The Allen Center had just opened and there was a very
clear focus on making people happy," Pillsbury remembers.
"The course content, the faculty, the food, the schedule
— everything was organized around the students' needs."
class was filled with men and women from many different industries.
The diversity of views and experiences opened his eyes to
new ways of approaching his own field. He recalls racing back
to work to apply his new knowledge.
Monday at 8 a.m. was the 'tear it off and start all over'
meeting," he says. "We'd say, 'OK, what are we going
to do differently this week?' And we did. We took the concepts
I learned over the weekend and said, 'Let's put them to work
the lessons Pillsbury found particularly useful were those
of Kellogg marketing guru Philip
Kotler, who was sharing much of his new research on segmentation
and strategy with the class. Pillsbury applied these insights
to the Linconshire Marriott's theater and watched it grow
to become one of the largest subscription-based theaters in
Pillsbury was named vice president of strategy at Marriott's
headquarters. There, he created many new brands and extensions
that dramatically increased the company's market share. "That
was stuff that came right out of Phil Kotler's mouth, and
I could cite six or seven examples of that," Pillsbury
with the fruits of his Kellogg education, Pillsbury also enjoys
a network of friends and business associates. In September,
in fact, he planned to meet classmate Phil Schneck
at the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Ireland. And two of Schneck's
children, who were grade-schoolers while the men were enrolled
at Kellogg, now work for Thayer companies.
what Kellogg was all about for me," Pillsbury says. "Lifelong
connections and lifelong learning."