Richard Lyon is manager of the five-star Marriott Renaissance Chancery Court hotel, which is housed in the former Pearl Insurance building in London, a beautiful turn-of-the-century structure.
It was fully opened, with 356 bedrooms, by June 2001. This was a tough time to launch a luxury hotel in London, but the company held its nerve and is now reaping the benefits.
Lyon arrived in 2002 as general manager, and had the personal luxury of taking on a flagship property in a killer location. It was a long way from his first job in hospitality, earning £7 a week at a small hotel in North Wales.
But that part-time job was enough to persuade him to make his passion for hospitality a career, and after study (and a fortuitous referral) he found himself working with the Savoy's famed trainer, Olive Barnett, on the London hotel's five-year hotel management training course.
Even then, at the ripe old age of 19, Lyon knew where he wanted to get to. "You need to have a goal," he says. "I can still remember telling my kitchen colleagues, when asked, that I was going to be a general manager."
International positions on the sales and marketing side followed, in Riyadh and Cairo, as well as management positions in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Warsaw, Poland. It took him 20 years but, in 1993, Lyon assumed his first general manager position at the Amman Marriott hotel in Jordan.
He has now been with Marriott for 25 years and says that, although it's a huge international organisation, as a manager he's glad to have the autonomy to run the hotel the way he wants - "as long as I deliver the goods, of course".
As a general manager, he firmly believes he needs to be on the floor, not hidden away in an office, to do his job effectively.
For those wishing to follow Lyon, he advocates hard work and dedication. "You look at younger staff and you can clearly see those among them who will make it," he says. "They have the drive and passion and, as long as they remain honest to themselves, they'll make it."