Faculty Spotlight: Dave Roberts

From working as a consultant to the Pentagon on ballistic missile defense, to managing the finance department of American Airlines, and serving as the Senior Vice President of Revenue Strategy & Solutions at Marriott International, Professor Dave Roberts has had an extraordinary career within the hospitality industry and beyond. While he began his career as an undergraduate and graduate engineering student at Cornell, he eventually found his way to the hospitality world. He has consistently brought his positive energy, calm demeanor, and unique insight to both the workplace and the classroom.

While looking back on his successful and diverse career path, Professor Roberts proclaimed, "Hospitality is part of who I am. It's in my blood." Although Professor Roberts considers himself a "transfer student" as he is new to the Hotel School, he perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the industry and the communal passion Hotelies share for creating unique and memorable experiences. Professor Roberts also has a profound love for the Cornell community as a whole.

He is honored to be able to impart knowledge about the industry he loves at a place he loves, and stated, "I get to teach hospitality at Cornell? I pinch myself… Who gets to do that?" Regarding the pandemic, Professor Roberts has maintained his hopeful and positive mentality. He believes that travel isn't going anywhere, and although the optics of the industry will inevitably evolve and change (possibly through an increase in soft brands and independent hotels), it has been repeatedly proven that people value experiences over commodities. He defines people as a sum of their experiences, and with that in mind, people will always be willing to pay for new, novel experiences, allowing the industry to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Travel connects people across the world; as demand continues to rise, hoteliers become smarter, and disposable income increases, hospitality will remain and endure. Educators like Professor Roberts teach students how to create these once-in-a-lifetime, personalized experiences, and with that knowledge, Hotelies can help the industry to survive and prosper, giving people everywhere something to celebrate.