New at the top: Julie Pangelinan

July 31, 2011
Julie Pangelinan

Position: Chief financial officer of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a hotel management company based in Arlington County.

Career highlights: Chief financial officer, Sunrise Senior Living; chief accounting officer, Sunrise Senior Living; vice president, accounting policy, Marriott International; auditor, BDO Seidman; staff accountant, Ernst & Young.

Age: 47

Education: B.S., business administration, San Francisco State University.

Personal: Lives in Oakton with husband Ray and sons Jordan and Nick.

I loved the fact that debits always equaled credits. It fit into my personality. So after realizing the slim odds of becoming a clarinetist in a major symphony orchestra, I changed my major to accounting in my last year of college.

I started my career in public accounting and was soon fortunate to work in a firm’s London office, which was great because I’ve always been interested in international business. I’ve wanted to travel the world since I was a little girl and knew I wanted to work in a foreign country.

I never really envisioned myself being in public accounting my whole career. Eventually it felt like the right time to look at other options. I was ready to go into industry.

I spent six years at the corporate headquarters of Marriott. I distinguished myself as a strong technical person. You need to achieve a high level of technical proficiency as you proceed in public accounting but you also have to have good personal skills and the ability to get along with others. When you’re an auditor you have to interact with and get information out of people. I found I had good people skills.

I spent the past five years at Sunrise Senior Living. I started as a chief accounting officer, but when the economy started to collapse, we started getting into financial difficulties and we all had to wear other hats. I soon took over as treasurer and also took responsibility for the purchasing department.

I’m an extremely driven person. Failure is not an option. That has helped me to get to where I am today.

So after a very difficult accounting restatement, I am proud to say that I was able to keep my key leadership team together. People were required to work through all hours of the night and on weekends for many months. We really had to plow forward and never give up. Every new challenge that came our way we had to analyze and figure out how to work collaboratively with all parties involved.

Without my team’s loyalty to me and the company, we would not have been able to complete each task.

I soon found myself leading the company as chief financial officer because I demonstrated an ability to understand other disciplines and move beyond the role of just being an accountant to being a strong businessperson.

I created change within the organization, delivered financial statements in an accurate and timely manner and gave advice on business transactions that we were pursuing.

I’ve always had a passion for the hospitality industry. I love to travel, and I really enjoyed the industry while I worked at Marriott, so I joined Interstate Hotels & Resorts. Interstate and Sunrise have a lot of similarities as companies. They both manage a similar number of real estate assets for third-party owners. There were a lot of synergies there.

Interstate is poised for rapid growth. It has added more than 100 management contracts in the first six months of 2011.

The company is looking for opportunities to expand domestically and internationally. It’s an exciting time to be joining the company.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

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