Core Connections Feature: Patrick Cimerola, CHRO, Choice Hotels International

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Today’s Core Connections Feature profiles CHRO of Choice Hotels International, Patrick J. Cimerola. Father of three, Patrick is a passionate and inspirational leader. He has been in his current position with Choice Hotels for seven years and is an alumnus of both LaSalle University in Philadelphia and Central Michigan University.

Patrick CimerolaTell us about a time when you took a substantial risk that paid off (or backfired!).
Taking a promotion 3,000 miles away when I was 25 years old. At first, it was scary but I pointed my compass north and kept pushing myself through the tough times. Mostly, on the professional side, it was a break-even proposition over four years as I learned a lot about myself. However, on a personal note, my wife and I have a great marriage today because it was just us for four years and we learned how to work together early on with very little support.

How do you lead differently now than you did 5 or 10 years ago?
In my book, leadership today is three things:

  1. Inspiring people to a better future.
  2. Understanding strategic agility.
  3. Mastering your story.

How do you stay competitive?
I always read in the morning, connect with colleagues outside of the office, and challenge my staff to break the frame.

What’s the best way to judge if someone is a good fit for your organization?
If they have a passion for what they do and can articulate a winning attitude that gets them in the door. Ultimately, it comes down to a “fire in the belly, ” a history of past success. Leadership capabilities are a must.

Who has been a mentor to you? Tell us about them.
My father and my uncle. My father taught me early on ??through some interesting lessons, I might add ??that no one gets anywhere in life without pushing yourself and a little pain. He also taught me that there are always two sides to every coin. My uncle taught me to constantly add tools to your toolbox and to constantly reinvent yourself.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a mentor?
The juice isn’t always worth the squeeze.

What’s a lesson that you had to learn the hard way?
Trust: always put it out there, but understand that some people have bad intentions.

What keeps you coming back each day? What’s the best part for you?
People, the challenge, and a willingness to win. The people, though ??seeing others succeed ??is really what does it for me. I’ve never been a spotlight person, at least not in my professional career.

What do you always have to have near you during business hours?
Pictures of my family, and a remembrance of my mother-in-law.

If you could have lunch with one leader in the business world, who would it be with? What one question would you ask?
Abraham Lincoln: “If you have to do all over again, the Civil War, what would you do differently? ”

Droid or iPhone? Mac or PC?
iPhone.

Coke or Pepsi?
Neither. I’m a flavored water person.

Best place to vacation?
Sicily.

What’s on your iPod right now?
Metallica, POD, and April Wine.

What’s something about you that people are surprised to find out?
My  tremendous love for cooking and gardening.

Is there a quote that you always tend to bring up in meetings?
“Talent is a gift; character is a choice. ”

If you could time travel, what would you want to say to the college-age you?
Ask more questions, study more.

One piece of advice for young, aspiring leaders:
Patience tempered with unbridled aggressiveness.