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Close Up: 2015 NEWH Scholarship Winner

(October 2015) posted on Mon Oct 12, 2015

Debora Mathis talks design, tourism and plans for her own hotel chain

By Mary Scoviak

Five years from now, Debora Mathis could be your client. Currently working part-time as an assistant project manager for new builds at Washington, D.C.-based PM Hospitality Strategies (PMHS) Inc., this Swiss native is also pursuing her master’s degree in hospitality management at the George Washington School of Business in the nation's capital. Near term, she hopes to grow her skill set as a project manager for a major brand. Then, she plans to put those abilities to the real-world test: first, by building an eco-conscious hotel in Haiti by 2019 and, a few years on, by starting her own hotel chain.

Debora Mathis. Photo: Courtesy of NEWH.

It’s this kind of bold thinking that won Mathis the $5,000 2015 NEWH Women Leaders in Hospitality Scholarship. She will be honored during the “Boutique Design Power Players: Women Leaders in Hospitality Breakfast and Panel Discussion,” Monday, Nov. 9, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center during the Boutique Design New York (BDNY) design fair and conference.

Like many in her generation, Mathis is on a mission to marry the business side of the hotels with an eco- and socially responsible mandate. It was the human connections forged by travel and tourism that initially attracted her to the industry. Growing up in the mountains of Switzerland, she was fascinated by incoming tourists and their cultures, sparking her interest in travel. “The more places I saw and the more people I met, the more I recognized the beauty of the tourism sector. It teaches, it enriches, it unites,” she wrote in her essay to the NEWH scholarship selection committee. “However, if tourism is not implemented and managed properly, it can become destructive to local communities or the environment.”

Mathis has gained experience both on both in hotel management and in cause-oriented initiatives. While studying tourism management, she was also a member of Global Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. In her post with PMHS, she is working on hotel projects, such as the Hampton Inn & Suites Washington D.C.-Navy Yard, which is set to open shortly, and a broad range of activities, from selling the new hotel, ordering supplies and FF&E and  creating marketing materials to hiring all associates for the hotel.


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