It’s never easy being the boss’ son, but Sam Schwartz, chief of staff, office of the chairman for First Hospitality Group Inc. (FHG), an owner and operator of 40 hotels in the Midwest, feels it was “one of the best decisions” he has made so far.
“At first, it took some getting used to. There’s no doubt that I’m being watched as people decide what type of leader I might be,” said Schwartz, the son of FHG founder and Chairman Stephen Schwartz. “I have a lot to live up to, so I try hard to soak up knowledge from my dad and our talented team. I also often find myself taking on more responsibility compared to my experience, and, as a result, I’ve grown comfortable being the youngest person in the room by several decades. Spending time around smart, experienced professionals is a great way to stay humble.”
Schwartz, who graduated from Northwestern University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering and product development, respectively, was turned on to the hospitality industry thanks to a summer job—what he described as a rotational internship.
“As the family business, hospitality had always been on my radar growing up, though my father had encouraged me to follow my interests, which had previously ranged from medicine to product development. But, I went to work for FHG with an open mind and got absolutely hooked,” he said.
He returned to FHG in July 2015 as a development associate, then was elevated to development director, a position he held up until a few months ago when he took on his current role, “where I work directly with our chairman on executing his agenda.”
He continued, “It covers just about every aspect of our business, so my days are widely varied. Right now, I’m most excited about the work I’m doing to help drive our strategic planning process. It’s been energizing to come together with our team to dig into how we see the industry evolving over the coming years, and to chart a path forward that will leverage all of the successes we have going on as a company today.”
Moving forward, he’d like to see FHG become “a truly innovative company, one that regularly challenges status quo and can point to original offerings that have changed industry dynamics. As I gain experience, I plan to work my way up within FHG and help lead us in that direction.”