Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds
Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/662902
32 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Today, Lutof-Perlo is president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises— the frst woman ever to be CEO of a major cruise line. Te take- away? Don't underestimate yourself. It turns out that Hanrahan had transferred Lutof-Perlo to marketing because he noticed her high potential and wanted to give her experience in diferent parts of the organization. She took full advantage. Over the next 12 years, Lutof-Perlo rose swiftly through the organization, serving as senior vice president of hotel operations, then executive vice president of operations, before being tapped as president and CEO in December 2014. "Tat experience, when I was moved to marketing, was a pivotal moment not only in my career, but in my understand- ing of myself and leadership," says Lutof-Perlo. "I realized you shouldn't think about your path as linear, because oftentimes it isn't. Your best career move is probably one when you don't take a linear path, because you learn so much more than you would have if you had stayed on that one path. "Te other thing it taught me is that I was shooting too low— and that was in part because I am a woman. Frequently, as wom- en, we don't picture ourselves in the C-suite. I was guilty of that. We need to learn to reach high." For his part, Hanrahan says he saw Lisa's potential—although he never dreamed she would become CEO. "From the moment I walked into Royal Caribbean, I knew Lisa had a tremendous amount to ofer the company," he says. "She was, and is, one of those go-to people every organization is dy- ing to have in its ranks. Lisa has a great combination of intelli- gence, pragmatism, and leadership. It was clear that the sales or- ganization relied heavily on her. She has terrifc strategic instincts and she is also a great executor. Te more Lisa accomplished, the more obvious it became to me that she could handle any tough job in the company." Hanrahan says it dawned on him that CEO may be in her fu- ture when she was director of national accounts and Celebrity was getting set to launch its biggest venture to date, its Solstice class ships. "Delivering a new ship is always a challenge," Hanrahan says. "Lisa delivered Solstice fawlessly. Celebrity hadn't delivered a new ship in years. Tere wasn't a playbook to dust of and just run that play. Te work had to be done from scratch. Te leader- ship required to take a relatively new team and deliver a fawless launch was beyond impressive. I found myself thinking during those days, Wow, we found our next CEO." A laska. Te Caribbean. Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singa- pore. Te Baltic Sea. Tese destinations are some of the places Lutof-Perlo calls her ofce. In many respects, running a luxury cruise line is nothing like running other businesses. Te second-largest cruise line in the world, Royal Caribbean has six brands, including Celebrity. Celebrity markets itself as ofering a "modern luxury" experience. Founded in 1989 and based in Miami, it has ships that stop at more than 220 ports of call every year. Although Celebrity bills itself as a luxury line, its oferings run the gamut—Celebrity was ranked as the No. 3 overall best cruise experience in the afordable category by U.S. News & World Report, as well as the No. 1 premium cruise line in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards for the last seven years in a row. Celebrity cruises are experiential and destination-oriented. Te sophisticated vacations are for those who care about fne food and wine and want profound experiences of new cultures, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and other members of the executive team surprise travel agents with pic- nic baskets to celebrate the company's Grass is Greener initiative. Celebrity Cruises has real grass lawns on the top decks of its cruise ships. L i s a L u t o f f - P e r l o a n d o t h e r m e m b e r s o f t h e e x e c u t i v e t e a m s u r p r i s e t r a v e l a g e n t s w i t h p i c - i b k t t l b t "The men may have had some reluctance at frst, just because they saw a woman up there, but quickly the team respected and responded."