Liz Erikson, Executive Director, Meetings & Incentives-North America at Fairmont-Raffles-Swissotel was PCMA’s 2013 nominated honoree for the CIC Hall of Leaders. A well-deserved recognition as she prepares to retire at the end of this year. With more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Liz has been instrumental in leading the charge of women as leaders in the meetings and conventions business.
In true Liz fashion she recounted her first job with Fairmont from Sunday’s podium, “in the early seventies I was working for the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco as their DOSM and Fairmont wanted to hire me as a Sales Manager making $16,000 a year. They said that was all they could pay. A few months later after joining the Fairmont, they hired a man and he was paid $18,000 a year. I asked why and was told he was married with 4 kids. I responded that his wife could take birth control pills just as I had and they either would pay me the additional dollars or I was out the door. They came through and we never looked back.”
In those early years Liz was one of the few women executives in U. S. hotel sales and marketing, along with Charlotte St. Martin, Evelyn Frates, Diane Shield and a handful of other women. With no women to look up to Liz credits Charlie Craddock, Richard Swig, Joe Esposito, John Metcalf, Herman Wiener and Peter Goldman, Chris Cahill and Kevin Frid as gracious mentors at differing stages of her career.
As more women joined the ranks in sales Liz reflected, “We were not very nice to one another. We were competitive. We tended not to want to mentor other women. Silly but true.” She was quick to continue that she believes this has dramatically improved, but there is still room for improvement.
Liz paved the way for many of the women who are now steering the course for our community of planners and suppliers.There were a few tears from the women at the Fairmont table as Liz closed her gala remarks, “as I matured I have learned how rewarding it is to see so many young women and men, that I have mentored celebrating many successes in our industry. That truly is my legacy.”