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Cheryl Shirley was recently hired as the new director of catering at AT&T Executive Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role as the director of catering at AT&T Executive Hotel and Conference Center?
I’m thrilled to be part of a professional creative team that excels in making successful events. I’m very excited to be able to provide our clients with excellent service, inspired culinary, and an array of event space options—which includes more than 50,000 square feet of existing flexible space and a new 15,000-square-foot ballroom expansion to be completed by January 2018.
2. How do you think past industry experiences have prepared you for this role?
With more than 20 years of hotel and catering experience all over the country, I have been able to create a variety of events. Some events included recreating a White House menu, executing a Celebrity Gala and planning a simple picnic in the park. Being on the UT campus, and close to downtown, we have access to great event spaces, ample parking and a hard-working team. Because of this, our conference center is able to create memorable experiences for our clients. This has included longhorns grazing on our front drive, armadillo racing in our courtyard and romantic weddings featuring the UT Tower.
3. How did you get into the industry?
Before college, my interest in the hospitality industry was sparked when I worked in restaurants and catered small events. I pursued my interest by earning my bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management at Johnson & Wales University. I have been in the business and loving it ever since.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role as director of catering?
My goal as the director of catering is to support our dynamic catering and banquet teams in providing professional guidance to our clients. We want to make sure all events are successful and fun! More exciting is offering our beautiful, new 15,000-square-foot ballroom to our clients and creating memories in that space.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
This hotel and conference center is unique compared to other hotels I’ve worked at, which makes it exciting to be on this team. There are always opportunities to wow our clients, and meeting those challenges is very satisfying, especially when I can share the accomplishments with a deserving team. Our clients continually return here because they’ve experienced our high standards and know why we have a shining reputation!