U.S.V.I. Native Yvette Thomas-Henry never imagined she’d end up in the hospitality industry, much less become the general manager of one of the most venerated hotels in the world.
“Hospitality never occurred to me at all when I went off to college,” said Thomas-Henry, who was recently named the general manager of the Four Seasons hotel in Atlanta.
Thomas-Henry is the first black female general manager to serve at a Four Seasons hotel.
Mrs. Thomas-Henry was born on the island of St. Thomas and raised on St. Croix, in the United States Virgin Islands. Thomas-Henry, 48, first attended college in Ohio before transferring to Pace University in New York City. She holds a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology and a master’s degree in administration for human service from Audrey Cohen College, New York.
But while studying in New York, Thomas-Henry needed to find a job and ended up working at the Plaza Hotel, in a “gorgeous building,” with “famous people everywhere,” she said. “It was just a fabulous time in New York, I knew I was going to have fun there.”
That first job turned into lifelong career with stints at hotels including Loews New York, the Waldorf-Astoria, the Conrad in Miami, The Ritz-Carlton in Boston, and several Four Seasons locations.
“I will say after 20-plus years in the industry, it’s pretty good to finally be sitting in the general manager’s chair,” Thomas-Henry said.
Aside from her career, Thomas-Henry has two children with husband Thomas Henry. Thomas-Henry said he first asked for her mother’s permission to take her out on her 16th birthday and they were both students at Central High School, and they’ve been married for 23 years.
As a Caribbean native and successful businesswoman, Thomas-Henry said she wants more students in the islands to work hard in pursuit of their dreams.
“Have goals that you set for yourself and use the people around you to help you get there,” Thomas-Henry said.
She credits her mother, Althea Thomas, and her fourth-grade teacher Sheryl Soto with being the role models she relied on growing up.
“I think I learned how strong women can be and how much they can accomplish,” Thomas-Henry said. “Those two showed me how it can be done and they were tough.”
Success is also dependent on viewing school as, “a gateway to the future,” Thomas-Henry said. “St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, they’re little islands. They’re specks on the globe in the grand scheme of things, the world is waiting. But the world is only going to wait for those who are willing to fight their way through it.”
Source: VI Daily News