When you’re growing as fast as Kimpton is, it’s nice to know there’s someone like Heather Richer on your team. Heather’s been with us for 11 years and has just been named as Vice President, Revenue and Distribution. It’s a big, complex job — we’re pretty sure there’s math involved — and Heather’s combination of experience, curiosity and creative thinking makes her a perfect fit for the position. She’s a Chicago native who recently relocated to San Francisco with her husband and two young daughters to join the home office. We checked in with Heather to ask her a few questions about her journey at Kimpton and beyond, including her decision to return to school for a master’s degree.
Q: We talk a lot about our culture at Kimpton. What does “Kimpton culture” mean to you?
A: I think it’s really about being genuine and being a true partner and supporting our employees and our guests and each other. I think it’s also embracing that there are many ways to accomplish things by taking risks and being creative. And you know we talk about that a lot as the company gets bigger — we have to be more aware of not losing sight of that and not having SOPs [standard operating procedures] and all kinds of guidelines. We want to make sure that we’re still embracing and encouraging our creativity and individuality, making that part of everybody’s DNA.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your 11 years with Kimpton?
A: I think what I’ve learned is to be more comfortable, to be more accepting of working outside of my comfort zone. To stretch myself. And I’m really seeing so many people I work with be so self-fulfilled both personally and professionally because Kimpton has helped them push outside of what they ever thought they’d be capable of. And really the only way to do that is, you know, you make mistakes, you move on, you try again. Our culture, that’s what it’s about.
Q: What’s your regimen for staying healthy on the road?
A: One thing I try to do is get a jog in. Our hotels are in places where it’s easy and safe to get out there and go for a jog. I’m not on a treadmill in a fitness center ever, even in cold weather. I’d rather have the gear and get out there.
Q: What’s your favorite place on earth?
A: I have a special place in my heart for France, but then the other place that’s the vacation of lifetime is Bora Bora. If you’ve never experienced the over-water bungalow I would highly recommend it.
Q: Are you a water sports person?
A: No, but you know I recently moved to California and so it sounds like I need to step up my cycling game, possibly take some surfing lessons, paddle boarding. I need to explore that more.
Q: And you’re working on your master’s degree right now?
A: I’m working on my master’s in tourism administration and I graduate in May. I can finally say that, which feels good. I think about how my career has gone and I’ve kind of been a walk-on to the field. At first I thought I wanted to be a social worker and I made a quick career change to hospitality, so I just felt it was important to get back in there and take some refresher courses.
Q: Any surprises since you restarted your educational process?
A: I had to take this sports law class and I was thinking, how is this even relevant? But it actually ended up being really great. With my current job I’m dealing with our legal team quite a bit, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really got out of it. It’s like someone joking about being bad at math, but who knows? Maybe if you went and took a statistics class again, it might be helpful now.