Education: AB, Princeton University; JD, Harvard Law School
First Job: Paralegal
What I'm Reading: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
My Philosophy: Keep your sense of humor, live with gusto and cultivate great personal relationships.
Family: Husband, Steve; two children, Samuel, Amalia
Interests: Reading, movies, theatre, college basketball, discovering great restaurants
Favorite Charities: My alma maters, Jewish Communal Organizations
Rena Hozore Reiss • Hyatt Hotels
General Counsel and Secretary2011 award winner
A passion for what you do, a great support network and a sense of humor are key ingredients to a successful career. These principles have guided me and helped me grow as a person, a business professional and a leader. I
started my career, as do many young lawyers, with a law firm. When I was offered the chance to move inhouse, working with one of the firm’s former partners, I grabbed it. It was a serendipitous opportunity that was the first step in my in-house career.
The work-life juggle has always been top of mind for me. I have deliberately sought out working environments that enabled me to accommodate my personal and professional goals, and I was fortunate to be able to work a flexible schedule when my family was young. I am also lucky to have a husband and children who cheered me on every step of the way.
As General Counsel of Hyatt, one of my goals is to create a work environment that recognizes that professional excellence does not have to come at the expense of our personal lives and our families. Supportive peers and mentors helped me get where I am today, and it is thrilling to be able to reach a hand back to provide encouragement and a sounding board to younger colleagues.
To me, there are a few basic tenets of leadership. Be yourself; authenticity goes a long way in building strong relationships. Take time to listen to what others have to say. Create an environment that encourages honesty and communication and builds trust. Get out of your office and get to know your colleagues; it will help you to do your job, and a team that is connected personally is more likely to have strong morale and to perform more effectively. Thank people for a job well done.
Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your career, stay passionate about your work, and if it no longer excites you, don’t let inertia prevent you from moving on. Seek out the next challenge, but don’t compromise your personal priorities. And, most importantly, don’t forget to laugh. A sense of humor will keep you grounded as you face inevitable challenges in your everyday life.
Your professional journey will likely involve twists and turns. Stay open to new possibilities and, as one of my most inspirational mentors counseled me, embrace chances to “re-pot” yourself. As new opportunities come along, by all means talk to friends, family and colleagues. But trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of taking a leap into the unknown.