July 12, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio
Kerrie Mulholland, the outgoing Director of Sales and Marketing at the recently opened W Melbourne, followed her heart when she joined our industry 25 years ago, and she’s doing the same in making the big decision to leave it behind.
This time her heart is taking her away from five-star hotels and into regional Victoria, the Mallee region to be precise, where she’ll help run the farm of her partner, “Farmer Jamey”.
The effusive Mulholland has been a constant presence in business events for Starwood and Marriott since the late 1980s in a range of senior MICE sales and marketing roles.
Reflecting on her successful career she says she’s enjoyed the people side of the business most of all.
“What I’ve loved most is the clients and colleagues – they are high energy, creative people. I’ve made wonderful friends around the world.”
Mulholland has worked in cities around Australia and in Asia and her final assignment has been as part of the opening team for the new W Melbourne.
Sean Hunt, Area Vice President of Australia, New Zealand & Pacific, Marriott International says “Kerrie is an absolute star”.
“I have known Kerrie for many years, she is well respected in the industry especially in the MICE space, having worked in our global sales organisation and as a Director of Sales and Marketing in several of our hotels including The Westin Melbourne and most recently, opening our fabulous new W Melbourne,” Hunt said.
Damon Page, General Manager of W Melbourne, and Mulholland worked together on taking the new W Melbourne to market.
Page says that Mulholland’s impact has been through her passion for the business, depth of meaningful business contacts and infectious appetite to be best in class.
He attributes her success within Marriott and Starwood over many years to her gritty determination and the attention she gives to those with whom she works directly.
“Kerrie will be greatly missed from the company for her ability to bring people together, remain the consummate professional and always drive hard for the business’ sake,” he said.
The much loved and respected Mulholland credits Barbara Grant of the Carlton Crest Hotel in Melbourne for bringing her into the industry and giving her opportunities beyond her first role as a Banquet Clerk.
“If it wasn’t for Barbara and her move to the Sheraton in Brisbane I wouldn’t have got into Starwood,” she says.
Her industry peers comment on the warmth and the “fun” she brought to her business interactions.
Arinex Founder Roslyn McLeod says she worked closely with Mulholland over many years and on a special MICE advisory board within the Starwood Group.
“Kerrie was respected for her part in making our Board meetings an outstanding success,” McLeod says. “She is fun to be with and has the talent to professionally guide a group of strong personalities and develop the relationships to contribute to the Marriott/Starwood corporate success.”
Mulholland is most proud of the role she played in steering this advisory group, known formally as the Starwood MICE Asia-Pacific Advisory Board.
And her sense of humour is never too far away – she says she’d like to also be remembered for the many famils that she organised and for being the “queen of karaoke”.
On the eve of starting her life’s next chapter, she says she’s looking forward to the morning cuppas on the veranda with Jamey, the arrival of the baby lambs in Spring and the picnics and bonfires with family and friends.
“The time feels right. In life I’ve always followed my heart and gut feeling. It’s never let me down,” she says.
The 1,500 sheep will be loving the extra attention and the 1,500 Spring lambs will take a lot of special care. There’s also the wheat, barley, and canola – so boots will certainly replace heels in the work wardrobe for Mulholland.
Her parting advice to those seeking a career in our sector is simple: “You’ve got to have a passion to be in the industry. It’s about saying yes to every opportunity – ask lots of questions, put your hand up, get noticed.”
COVID did not cause Mulholland to take a new turn, but it did create the opportunity and time to consider a different life. And a different life it will be indeed. As McLeod says, Mulholland will be running the Country Women’s Association in no time!