06 Oct Hispanic Heritage Month: George Aguel’s career shaped by father’s passion for serving others
Orlando Business Journal
Editor’s note: Throughout the month of October, Orlando Business Journal will feature guest columns from Hispanic business leaders throughout the region, who will share how their heritage and culture have helped shape their business lives today.
This is a month I long have recognized as a special time for my family and me. As a Cuban American, my life always has been greatly impacted, both personally and professionally, by my Hispanic ethnicity.
I immigrated to the U.S at only 4 years of age with my parents, who came to this country seeking to find a better life. They both worked seven days a week, in addition to raising two boys, to provide us the best home and education they could. I learned a great deal from their work ethic and desire to do more than was expected. And, from my father’s work in a hospital and in the restaurant industry, I came to appreciate the rewarding feeling you get from being of service to others.
That culture of service he modeled so strongly influenced my decision to enter the hospitality industry, which became my lifelong career. There is no doubt that this passion for serving others, which I watched my father take so much pride in, helped shape who I am today and has contributed so much to my success in the hotel and theme park industry.
In my over 40 years in the tourism industry, my personal background has enabled me to better engage with, and work alongside, all types and positions of hospitality employees. Being able to communicate fluently in Spanish was a benefit I enjoyed in my professional and personal life, especially with so many industry employees who are Hispanic.
My heritage also gave me insights and opportunity to serve as a champion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as throughout our industry. This began with my founding of the Hispanic Diversity Leadership Group for Disney, followed by leading a diversity initiative for the meeting and convention industry, and receiving the honor of the Don Quixote Professional of the Year award. I am fortunate to have been able to influence and be a part of these important initiatives that help inspire others, and look forward to doing more.
Orlando is the most-visited destination in the country, and we are known for our culture of hospitality and reputation as an inclusive community that respects and values everyone. We are a community that embraces others, and it is this warmth and open-mindedness that makes us not only the world’s best vacation destination, but also the best place to work, live and enjoy our time with friends and family.