Left: John Hardy. Right: The Newport Marriott after its redesign, which The John Hardy Group and Shawmut partnered on.
John Hardy, CEO, The John Hardy Group
1. Who was the biggest influence on your career and why?
There is always more than one person who influences anyone’s career, and to be successful you have to have a lot of help along the way. My first major influencers were my parents and my grandmother. My parents were very ethical and my father was very involved with residential finance and building; they guided me towards an education and career in architecture, which led me to development. My grandmother was very well-known and well-liked in my hometown and worked into her mid-90’s. She had an amazing work ethic and a great personality.
My first job in architecture was with William B. Tabler Architects in NYC, and Bill Tabler, Sr. showed me you could be both highly ethical and successful in business. That job also taught me how to deal in international design and experience how hotels function. When I was in Houston, a structural engineer I worked with frequently, Anu Mahendra (now with HOK), was very instrumental in guiding me through the intricacies of business when I was just getting into roles of significant responsibility. Each of these people have been major factors in any success I have enjoyed.
2. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, professionally or personally?
The best advice I ever received was from Professor Eng at the University of Illinois before I left to find a job in NYC after graduation. He said, “Don’t ever lose your interest and if you do temporarily, find a way to regain it.” Great advice for anyone because if you do not have a passion for what you do everyday then you will not do it very well, and you likely won’t be successful at it. I’ve carried this advice with me throughout my career, and maintain it through all business endeavors. Our global competition in hospitality, Radical Innovation, now in its 12th year, is a great example of this concept. Radical is where we challenge students and professionals alike to follow their passions and dream big.
3. What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received?
I have been very fortunate to work with many great people at JHG who make me look a lot better than I deserve to. It's always rewarding when industry members compliment JHG or our staff on what they have accomplished. I received a handwritten note from one of our clients on a very challenging project that highlighted every value I have tried to integrate into JHG since the beginning in 1992. Over a three-year period of many ups and downs, he expressed gratitude in such specific terms that was extremely rewarding and quite amazing.
I have been very lucky to work with so many brilliant people across different aspects of our industry – design, hospitality, development, construction, purchasing, operations and finance – who value my advice. Beyond JHG, one of my favorite benefits of Radical Innovation is building close relationships with our finalists and helping them realize their innovative projects. It is very meaningful to play a part in helping someone else take a few steps toward achieving their dreams.
4. What was the most challenging business decision you ever had to make?
The most challenging business decision I’ve had to make was probably taking that first step to go out on my own. There was a point in my career where everyone was turning to me for advice – clients, peers, colleagues – and at the same time my position was eliminated for market reasons. I had a hunch that there was a void in the market and I had the opportunity to fill it, but it would mean taking a risk and starting a new business that had never existed before in hospitality. Thankfully, I was right and JHG pioneered an entirely new way of conducting business in the development area of the hospitality industry. While the process was very scary and challenging, I was able to bring my vision of a company that navigated the complete development process and conducted its business in a very professional and ethical manner to fruition.
5. If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Surf and turf. Although I don’t think I would last very long if I actually did that.