Julie A. Pangelinan

Position: The new chief financial officer of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a hotel management company based in Arlington.

As a young girl, she dreamed of becoming a clarinetist for a major symphony. But after distinguishing herself in public accounting and holding senior accounting posts at companies such as Marriott and Sunrise Senior Living, she set her sights on becoming a chief financial officer .

You’ve held senior financial positions at various companies. When did chief financial officer become a tangible goal for you?

I was not that person who dreamed of being a chief financial officer from a young age. I took every stage in my career for what it was. For example, I enjoyed being in public accounting but at some point felt I wanted to get some industry experience. I started on the technical accounting side of things because that was my major strength coming out of public accounting, but as I gained more responsibility I found I was a good leader and had a strong ability to motivate people and get work done through others. It’s a progression. I guess it became tangible when I was at Sunrise and started taking on responsibilities outside the accounting realm that I thought, “I like this. I’m good at this.”

How do you motivate others?

You have to take time to get to know your people on a personal level. What floats their boat? You have to be constantly understanding of their needs and giving them additional responsibilities as they’re ready for them so they can have more job satisfaction.

Can you give me an example?

I’ve done a good job over my career enabling people, especially women, to stay in the workforce. I’ve been very flexible with women who are coming back to work after having children and who want to work but don’t necessarily want to work full time. I’ve tried hard to find a way to give them the ability to continue to advance in their career even if they are stepping back a bit and want a more flexible work environment. That’s been rewarding.

Any major influences throughout your career?

I haven’t really had a single mentor in my career but I’ve had a number of individuals I’ve learned from. One of the people I admire the most is Mr. Marriott. I worked at Marriott for six years. One of his philosophies was that if you take good care of your employees, they will take good care of your customers and help your business to grow. That’s very simple but very powerful advice. That’s good advice for anyone in a service industry.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

See Monday’s Washington Post Business pages for Pangelinan’s “New at the Top” profile. Send nominations for others to newathetop@washpost.com