My Waldorf story began in June 1997 when my long-standing dream of launching a career at the “greatest of them all” came true after I was selected to join the hotel’s prestigious management training program. I had a postcard of the Waldorf Astoria taped to my dorm room wall at the University of New Hampshire through my undergraduate years studying Hospitality Management. It was truly surreal and thrilling for me, a kid who grew up in Karachi, Pakistan to be now standing by the Exposition Clock in the majestic lobby!
One of my most magical Waldorf memories happened on a particularly hectic day at work. I remember rushing to the ballroom to share a message with a colleague, and as I entered, was stopped dead in my tracks. Bette Midler’s iconic voice rose through the air, “It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I’ve got it all here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it. I would be nothing without you.“ She was rehearsing Wind Beneath My Wings for a Halloween party to benefit the New York Restoration Project. I’ll never forget how everything went still as I was overcome with emotion and awe. The beauty of that moment was that those lyrics epitomized how I felt about the Waldorf then and in retrospect even more so now.
Today, 25 years since I started my career at the Waldorf, I run my own executive coaching firm. My experience of being on the Waldorf Astoria team was transformational in terms of my own self-awareness, confidence, and knowledge of my own strengths in the face of any challenges life has presented on my doorstep. It was the wind beneath my wings - simply the best leadership development imaginable.