One-on-one with Remington Hotels' Sloan Dean

Sloan Dean’s career has been all about playing the long game, although his version of the long game has taken much less time than most people’s. The president and CEO of Remington Hotels may be young—he’s 39—but he’s already acquired more experience than many people do in an entire career.

“I’ve always tried to be very, very intentional. I’ve worked for large corporations, I’ve worked for private organizations, I've worked for publicly traded companies, but I've always tried to align myself with performance-based company,” he said. “If you're a high performer, you don't have to wait three years to get promoted. It may be 12 months if you’re really performing really, really well. I became CEO at 38 and who I've worked for was part of the equation.”

Making Moves

Dean, who grew up in a “really small” town in northeast Georgia, was very math-oriented growing up. He earned a degree in industrial systems engineering with a minor in finance from the Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech as it’s commonly referred to. ISE is the most business-oriented type of engineering and focuses on process and efficiency engineering, according to Dean.

Co-ops were required for graduation, so Dean worked in telecom with BellSouth, and hated it.

“I actually stopped my co-op early, which I think was an early indication of my willingness to take risks because if you stop your co-op, you don't get the co-op certificate,” he said.

Next up was General Electric. “I hated that, too,” he recalled.

“I very quickly in college was lucky enough to realize, ‘Hey, I don't want to work in telecom. I don't want to work in manufacturing,’ Dean said. “Well, for an industrial and systems engineering major, it's narrowed the window of options. Then I realized I didn’t know what industry I wanted to work in."

Dean ended up at boutique consulting firm Oliver Wyman, which introduced him to revenue management and “the rest is history,” he said. “Then once I got in the hotel industry, I fell in love with it and I've just never even thought about leaving it ever again.”

His entrée into the hotel industry was as regional revenue management with IHG, followed by corporate director of revenue management with Noble Investment Group, VP of revenue management and senior VP of revenue and market strategy with Alliance Hospitality Management, VP of sales and marketing and VP of business development and acquisitions for Interstate Hotels & Resorts and VP of revenue optimization at Ashford Hospitality Trust. He joined Remington in 2017 as SVP of revenue optimization and underwriting, moving to COO in 2018 and taking over as CEO and president in December of 2019.

All along, the goal was to be CEO, according to Dean, which spurred his moves throughout his career.

“It was always one of two catalysts for me to move on: Can I learn something that's going to set me up to be CEO or an entrepreneur one day? Or two, is the alternative opportunity so compelling I can’t turn it down?” he said. “If you really want to be CEO, you’ve got to be pretty good at most everything and not a specialist in anything. It was just part of this bigger plan where I've really tried to have a diversity of experience, even if a few times I've stepped back in terms of control, or even one or two cases actually took less money.”

New Focus

Sloan Dean
Sloan Dean is president and CEO of Remington Hotels. (Remington Hotels)

Dean said being a CEO was always the goal, but his view of the role has changed over time.

“It's no longer just being CEO. I think that would be a very narcissistic or egotistical way to look at it,” he said. “My dad would always tell my brother and me, ‘At the end of the day, it's about people. It's not how much money you got in your bank account. It's about how many people show up to your funeral.’”

Dean said that view has really shaped him during the past five or six years to the point where his intent and what really drives him have changed dramatically.

“I think if you're a young, ambitious person, all you're trying to do is get title, money, title, money and you feel empty at the end of the day,” Dean said. “I think, somewhere in my early to mid-30, I started to feel that way, even though I had a lot of success and I think what I focused more on is just the people orientation and pivoting to, ‘Yes, I'm CEO, I've achieved that, but how can I enrich other people and grow the platform and create opportunities for folks?’”

Dean has applied the new outward-focusing perspective to his own behavior and personality.

“If you ask anybody who's been close to me for the last 20 years what's the best thing about Sloan in the workplace, [they would say] ‘it's his ambition, his drive.’ That's also the worst thing,” he said. “I've gone through the executive coaching the last seven years and I call it, ‘Getting a PhD in self-awareness.’ I think that I've always been an achiever and always been one of the most competitive people I know, one of the most driven, and it caused a lot of relationship challenges earlier in my career where I had to be careful not to get reputation that I would just bulldoze people.”

Reaching the CEO spot doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to achieve, according to Dean.

“I think I’ll always be working. I think life is movement,” he said. “I'd love to own a beach home but sitting on a beach probably doesn't suit me. I'd like to think this is my last role and I'll just grow Remington to be a massive company and successful and do that for the next 20 years, but we'll see. I think it'll be a combination of growing this platform, being a board member or two here and there, and then continue to try to give back through activism and that kind of thing.

“It should be a fun couple of decades.”

Remington Hotels

Headquarters: Dallas

Structure: Third-party management company

Portfolio: 79 properties, 16,309 guestrooms