Self-Improvement Ethic, Leadership Were Key for Jachimowicz
Part 4 of 4-part article on Lenny Jachimowicz’s rise from plumber’s helper to global VP at Marriott
A key to his career, Jachimowicz says, has been a constant desire to learn one new thing every day, then apply it and build on it. For him this can be as simple as, say, learning the language of marketing so he can have an engaging conversation with those colleagues. Or it can be his desire to understand a term someone uses in a meeting — e.g., “cap rate,” “API,” an acronym — or to emulate someone’s presentation style. “I’m not ashamed to say, ‘I don’t know what that means; you’re an expert, explain that to me,’” he says.
Jachimowicz peppers his conversation with references to learning experiences. One month he’s at the Rocky Mountain Institute learning from scientist Amory Lovins about renewable energy; the next, he’s absorbing project management theory from Arizona State University’s Dean Kashiwagi. He recently took his Marriott team to a NASA facility to meet with Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist John C. Mather and see the James Webb Space Telescope that’s being built there. “We learned about detail, we learned about focus, making sure that things get done right the first time,” he says. “It really energized my team.”
Jachimowicz uses an annual professional development plan to continually reinvest in himself. “I tell people it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself. Go find someone who impressed you, someone you want to aspire to be more like, and build a relationship with that individual or someone like them.” Jachimowicz has created small internal and external circles of such go-to people. “These are people I bounce ideas off, these are people that inspire me, that I can call up when I have a problem and say, ‘Hey, have you run across this before? How would you handle it?’”
Jachimowicz says he thrives on additional challenges. For example, his Marriott responsibilities now include the entertainment side, especially in-room television, and that has meant a big new area to learn.
“Lenny has really done a fantastic job of reinventing himself,” Jones says. Jachimowicz heard what the people in the field were saying about efficiency and took the lead in technology, he says. “The systems we have today for doing preventive maintenance, rounds, inspections, the devices we’re using, getting away from paper and clipboard — Lenny was inspirational in making all that happen.”
Jachimowicz advises facility managers to be astute enough to sell their successes, and to capitalize on opportunities to appear in front of senior executives by describing positive results and what is driving them. “Go in with a little crib sheet and any time you see an opening, put a plug in,” he says. His example: “Here’s our technology roadmap around the customer service side. We’re here; then next year we’re going to start developing to get here; with the end goal in 2018 of being here.”
Becoming a Leader
His parting advice for facility managers is that they get outside their comfort zone and be active learners. “Don’t only speak the language of facilities and maintenance,” he says. “Speak the language of finance. Take an interest in some of the key words. When someone uses a phrase in a meeting that you don’t know, go find out about it, educate yourself.”
Jachimowicz’s drive and passion are perhaps most evident when he talks about leadership and his job philosophy. “What is leadership?” he asks. “It’s raising your hand when no one else will volunteer; it’s leading by example; it’s creating this environment for others to be successful; it’s stretching yourself; it’s continuing to reinvest in yourself so you’re one step ahead of everyone else; it’s being a visionary when everyone else in the room is living in the present. I love looking out into the future. I love the phrase ‘What if?’”
The goal of continuous improvement, he says, is an abiding goal of his — “raising the bar, challenging yourself, making the environment around you better. I have a phrase I live by: My job now is to create an environment where everyone around me can be successful. If I can do that every day, and people around me are rising and aspiring and moving to a higher level of performance, then I feel really good when I go home at the end of the day.”
Building Out the Long-Range Vision at Marriott
The hospitality industry is a dynamic field, with new competitors and changing customer expectations. Lenny Jachimowicz’s job is helping to make sure the company is well-prepared.
“I’m looking out ahead three to four years on behalf of the company,” Jachimowicz says, “making sure we’re mitigating every potential risk exposure point we can. My team is really building out the vision, the long-range plan, and, in collaboration with the continent leaders, handing it over for execution by the continents.” For example, he says, what should the company do in energy and sustainability? “How can it get more solar and renewable projects into its buildings, and how can we build a strategy around that?” A key to forward thinking and leadership, Jachimowicz says, is planning. “I have to be able to talk about what’s going to happen in 2016, and if we do that well, what that will set us up to do in ’17 and ’18. Planning is the cornerstone of getting people on your team to understand the end game, to rally to the cause, to be aligned and clear on what you’re asking them to do, and it also will lay out the deliverables: How do we know when we get there? This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing — that worked in the ’70s. It doesn’t work today.”
— Ronald Kovach
Lenny Jachimowicz Off the Job
He is married, has a son, a daughter, a stepdaughter, and four grandchildren. In 1988, after 24 years of marriage and two children, his first wife, in perfect health, died suddenly from complications of the flu. He later remarried.
He credits his late mother, in large part, with giving him a strong sense of core values. For a time in his Philadelphia youth, he says, she’d raise seven kids by day, make sure they were fed and their homework was done, then head off to work in a bakery at night. He says her memory of young Lenny would be this: “From the day you could walk, you were into everything, you were inquisitive, you were a bit on the rebellious side. You were my black sheep, ‘most likely not to succeed,’ but you always had drive.’”
He started boating at 16, and now keeps a 27-foot speedboat on Chesapeake Bay. He also enjoys fishing, wine, snow skiing, running, spending time with the grandkids, and traveling with his wife.
He has an active bucket list and a clear-eyed view of what he wants to accomplish. His wife says he checks two goals off and puts three new ones on. He’s attended a Super Bowl, fished for salmon in Alaska, skied almost every mountain in Colorado, and taken a cooking class in Italy. In December, he plans to captain a chartered boat and island-hop with friends around the British Virgin Islands.
— Ronald Kovach