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Dennis Clark, AC Hotel Madison Downtown

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dennis Clark, general manager, AC Hotel Madison Downtown.

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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging part of my job is staffing. Madison has a relatively low unemployment rate, which makes the search for new team members — at least locally — quite a difficult task. From front desk personnel to housekeeping, finding the right person can be a significant challenge.

On the other hand, the most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to help team members succeed and grow, both personally and professionally. The opportunity to play a small role in someone’s success is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve had the privilege of experiencing.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

This one is difficult to narrow down, but there two individuals who have had a significant impact on my career.

My first director of operations as a new general manager is one of those people. She showed me how to be a strong hospitality leader and the importance of setting high but realistic standards. Beyond that, she taught me how to get your team to buy in — one of the most important things I can do as a general manager. She exemplified the value of “work hard, play hard,” and has been a great role model for me. I would not be where I am today without her guidance.

The second would be my current regional vice president of operations, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with since I was hired last fall. Even though we each have a different way of looking at most things, she is the person I turn to when I need to identify a new approach. Again, she is someone I owe a great deal of my career to.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

Winning Courtyard Property of the Year would have to be a career highlight. I have always said if you want to be the best, you must try to be the very best. It may never happen, but if you don’t try it certainly never will. At the time, I was incredibly fortunate to have an amazing team who was equally determined to accomplish great things.

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

I’d tell myself to not put limits on my goals and dreams. With the right attitude, I’ve learned that anything is possible if you work hard at it.


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