A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Mary Rogers

Managing Director of Montage Laguna Beach & Area General Manager of Montage Healdsburg and Pendry San Diego


May 27 2024, Published 10:00 a.m. ET

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Mary Rogers
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Mary Rogers knows that leading well means leading by example. Her two-plus decades of experience in the luxury hotel industry have been marked by a determination to transcend limitations previously put upon women and clear a path for others to follow with fewer obstacles to share in success. 

Today, Mary is the Managing Director of Montage Laguna Beach & AGM Montage Healdsburg and Pendry San Diego. In her previous role at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Mary was the first woman to serve as general manager since the hotel’s opening in 1954.

In this conversation with Her Agenda, Mary shares insights on cultivating diverse teams, the importance of mindset, and why setting work-life boundaries is essential for women leaders. 

Her Agenda: To kick off, I’d love to hear from your own point of view a bit about the position you’re in right now. 

Mary Rogers: I’ve been in the United States for over 20 years. I was born and raised in Ireland in a small town in the west of Ireland. My parents shared with me that in order for me to have my own money, I needed to get my own job. So, for about five summers, when I was in high school, I worked in a small bed and breakfast in the town I grew up in with a little old lady who ran an eight-bedroom Bed and Breakfast every summer, and I did everything with her. We cooked together, cleaned the bedrooms, and served the guests. I welcomed them in, and they were from all over the world, which was fascinating to me. Working with her the year before I had to go to college, she encouraged me to study hotel management, which I had never really thought of before. So I filled out to study a degree in hotel and catering management, and I did that and studied for four years in Ireland at home in my fourth year of college. In fact, we studied with the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. And I remember thinking that was a company I wanted to work for. They came to our school and interviewed a bunch of us. Thankfully, I was selected to join Ritz Carlton right after college. So, I got my degree, and I headed off to the United States. I started as a front desk agent at the Ritz Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. I did not even know where that was, which is hilarious. But I worked for Ritz Carlton for ten years, which was pretty incredible. I worked for 12 years for Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, which is an independent hotel in Miami, Florida, and then for the last three years, I’ve been working for Montage International, specifically here in lovely Montage [Laguna Beach]. 

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But my journey has spanned over many years and many locations throughout the United States. It’s a wonderful journey of learning about living in America and all the great parts of the hotel industry, which has been amazing. 

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Her Agenda: That’s so incredible, especially the beautiful origin of working the bed and breakfast as just a teenager and then it giving birth to this whole, full life.

Mary Rogers: I knew that the hotel industry in particular, was an amazing gateway to see the world. [I was] coming from a very small farm in a very rural part of Ireland. I always knew there was more for me outside of that, but I also knew that joining the hotel industry is an amazing gateway to see the world and to meet amazingly fascinating people and that every single day in this industry is different and it’s definitely not boring. I always come to work every day with amazing intentions to get this wonderful stuff done. 

Her Agenda: You’ve explored every facet of the industry. I’m curious if there any lessons or pearls of wisdom that remain the same whether it is that rural bed and breakfast or the Ritz Carlton. 

Mary Rogers: Growing up on our family farm always instilled at a very early age a wonderful sense of work ethic and showing up. It does not matter what part of the hotel industry you work in or any industry you work in. Regardless of whatever job I’ve had, from a front desk agent to group reservation to bed manager, to Director of rooms to Vice President of Operations, if I instill the concept of showing up with a positive attitude, putting my head down, and getting the work done, it has always led me to be successful. 

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Her Agenda: Do you have any advice for people who want to cultivate a more positive attitude for themselves? How does one work on that?

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Mary Rogers: I genuinely believe it’s all in your attitude. And I know it’s very easy to say that. I have two daughters. I have a 10-year-old daughter, and I have a nine-year-old daughter, and they were born 13 months apart, but genuinely, they could not be any different. And I tried to instill [this] in my older daughter who has a very difficult time getting up in the morning but my little younger one is like already downstairs putting on her shoes ready to go out the door. I always tell her it’s about her attitude: wake up with a positive attitude that today’s going to be a good day, you’re going to be on time, and you’re going to get everything that you need to get done. And we will get it done. But if you wake up saying I’m tired, and I don’t want to go to school today, it’s going to be tougher for you. So, I truly believe that your attitude in life will determine your altitude in life. It’s not always easy because life is tough and things are always thrown at us but with any situation, I always breathe in the positives that have come out of this and know that the best is yet to come. 

Her Agenda: That is such a powerful outlook, and it also opens us up to more choice in our lives. 

Mary Rogers: It is a choice, and I know it’s so easy to say, but it does change your life and your perspective. And it’s one day at a time, just choosing to be that little bit more positive as opposed to looking at what could go wrong or what I don’t want to do. That makes a difference, and it is a choice.

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Her Agenda: Do you find that these sorts of values also shape the way you lead?

Mary Rogers: It always comes back to a positive outlook that makes people feel good when they have conversations, but also really leaning into lately ladies leading the way or opening the door for other ladies to come through in terms of leadership. You know that [women] general managers is a small club, but we’re growing. [I’m] making sure that I leave that door open for other [women] to come through, as well as always leaning in and making sure that they have a seat at the table and making sure that people feel comfortable and feel good about continuing to grow in their careers but also having families. 

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It is without doubt the single most important question that I get asked on a daily [and] weekly basis — how I’m able to balance it. My husband and our family [help me balance it]. Because, like it or not, the hotel industry is a people industry that is one of service, and in order to do that, you have to be present. So you have to be there to show up every day. 

Her Agenda: Did you ever get to see this example in action, or did you have to cultivate that for yourself and then pass the torch on?

Mary Rogers: Sadly, I would say I had to cultivate it myself. I am and always have been a very driven person. I was very determined to become a general manager by 40, and I was able to achieve that goal. I’m very fortunate, and I feel blessed to be an example for other [women]. It’s something that I take very seriously. 

Her Agenda: The team you’re currently running is majority [women]. What insights do you have to share about running a majority [women] team?

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Mary Rogers: It’s actually about 60% [women], which is wonderful.  It is wonderful to see so many [women] executives in leadership roles in the hotels. I think the next goal now is to make sure that we’re showing them that they can also continue to grow into other roles, such as hotel management as well as general management. So that’s the next step for me. But it’s a fantastic balance because there are great perspectives, not just on the on the gender side, but also on where they’re from. 

Her Agenda: It sounds like through that diversity you’re able to have a much better experience and expanded points of view.

Mary Rogers: And also just better performance. I mean, what the team achieves continues to amaze me. 

Her Agenda: What advice do you have for women who want to be leaders, no matter what industry, they find themselves in?

Mary Rogers: My key advice is to make sure you know what you want to do— you know what your next goal is and know what you want to achieve. Share it with your spouse, and share it with your family. Share your goals with whoever it is that you work with or work for. It’s hugely important that the people that you work for and work with are very aware and familiar with what your next goal is or what you want to achieve. A lot of times, we make the mistake of keeping our goals internalized or not sharing them with others. Number two is to make sure that you lead by example and that you continue to be somebody who’s a mentor and mentors others.

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It’s hugely important as a [woman] leader to [set] boundaries. Whether you’re a mother, a wife, a spouse, a best friend, a colleague, or whoever, it does not matter. People always want something from us, and it’s so important to set boundaries.

You’ve got to continue to keep the door open and encourage other women to rise up and take those steps into leadership because that’s really important. Lastly, one thing for me is that I continuously seek to learn. Continuous learning is hugely important to me, and that’s also something that we owe ourselves as we continue our journey in leadership and learning. 

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Her Agenda: Thank you so much for sharing those. Is there anything else that you wanted to share with our readers?

Mary Rogers:  I also know I’m fortunate to have a wonderful husband. A huge, important decision is who you’re spending your life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a husband, wife, or whatever that is, make that selection and know the value of that selection because it is that person in life that will really support you, and really make sure that the person that you select to spend your life with, that they support your goals as much as you support them.

I feel so fortunate. And then just a shout out to all those people supporting women in leadership, too, because it’s a partnership, and without them, I am certain that I would not be sitting at this chair today.

[Editor’s note: This feature has been edited for length and clarity.]

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By: Natalli Marie Amato

Natalli Amato is a journalist and poet based in Saratoga Springs, New York. She covers wellness, relationships, and culture for Her Agenda, Spirituality & Health Magazine, Saratoga Living, and others. Natalli has authored four poetry collections, the most recent being 2023's 'North Wind.' Natalli is currently earning her master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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