Being raised in an Army family has been one of several things that shaped Shanna Hughes’ career in the hospitality industry over the past 20 years. Now, as the director of catering at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Hughes is grateful for that background, and for a good friend, her mother and her two children who helped her succeed.
“My dad was a stickler for detail, which is part of that military background and influence. It is very important to me to ensure I cross the t’s and dot the i’s and make sure my clients know I’m there for them,” she said. “What an honor to serve people.”
Hughes was born at Fort Carson and graduated from Widefield High School. After graduation, she married and lived in Greece and England before returning in 2000 to take care of her disabled mother.
After a divorce and the end of the deejay business she and her former husband owned, Hughes started working at a local call center and was unsure what direction she wanted to take next. She then received a call from a friend who offered her a position at the DoubleTree by Hilton.
Hughes worked at the DoubleTree for 15 years.
“I started noticing that I felt like I wasn’t learning anymore because I had been there for so long,” she said. “I just needed to be challenged.”
In 2015, Hughes accepted a position at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. It was a step down from her DoubleTree job at the time, but she knew it was the right choice.
Hughes turns 50 this month and plans on maintaining the goal of continually learning.
What do you like most about your job?
I would have to say the ability to continuously learn. It is ever-changing. If you stagnate, you don’t get to stagnate long. There’s always something else or somewhere else you can go.
I’ve had a wonderful, very successful career. People don’t realize what an honor it is to work here. It’s a great company and, best of all, I’m learning again.
What are you currently working on at Cheyenne Mountain Resort?
We’re right in the heart of wedding season, but weddings have been down in Colorado Springs for about two years, so we’re coming up with new strategies for 2018 and starting earlier than we probably normally would. So far, is seems to be paying off. We’re also working on revamping our wedding process and how we can give our brides here a beautiful experience. We’re working on some different things to enhance that.
What characteristics of professionalism do you value most?
I think the biggest thing is honesty. I truly love very candid people. I feel that you get nowhere sugarcoating things. I understand people don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that doesn’t give you the true picture, and then you don’t know how to fix the problem. You spend more time tiptoeing around something instead of working on it. I value the honesty I share with my team, and the honesty I receive from my team. … We’re all a work in progress.
Has Colorado Springs been a good place to develop your career?
Yes, Colorado Springs with the big box houses — that’s what we call the bigger hotels — there are only five or six here, so it is the perfect opportunity to learn. I spent a small part of my career in Dallas, which has hundreds of hotels. It was challenging, but the training I received here allowed me to be successful there. This industry in this town is known for that.
What advice would you give to other professionals?
Don’t listen to all the white noise. I do sales and that noise can cloud that we have a job to do and goal to reach. Whatever goals you try to reach, push forward with everything you have. Don’t let the noise get in your head.