The new director of event management at JW Marriott arrived in Grand Rapids from the Philippines for what she thought would be an 18-month stint as an intern at Amway Grand Plaza.
Now, 12 years later, Analou Schoonmaker calls Grand Rapids home, and she has just been promoted to lead events at the downtown landmark.
Rising up ranks
Following her internship, Schoonmaker joined the not-yet-opened JW Marriott as an administrative assistant and then moved into the role of event manager, which she has held for the past seven years.
As director of event management, the JW said that Schoonmaker will bring her "in-depth knowledge" of hotel and event operations to a broader role that focuses more on leadership and management.
Schoonmaker said that starting from the bottom has prepared her for the new role, and she believes it is important in helping someone become a truly great leader.
She grew up in the Philippines and studied hospitality at the University of the Philippines.
Schoonmaker comes from a family of scientists, but said that she knew her path would be a different one, because she wanted a job where she could interact with people, bring events to life and use her passionate, detail-oriented personality to make things happen.
"I chose hospitality, because I like the dynamic of meeting different people each day,” Schoonmaker said. “I've learned it takes a special person to work in hospitality — you have to be a team player and have a sense of humor. You have to understand you can't handle everything on your own — it's an orchestration to create that perfect guest experience."