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Growing up in Argentina gave Pablo Brizi not only the work ethic but also his passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) that would carry him throughout his career. He describes the country as amazing and quite different from the upbringing his own children are having in the US.
While attending college in Argentina, Brizi was working twelve hours a day, attending classes after his shifts, and getting roughly six hours of sleep before doing it all over again. Along with this schedule, his father marked him with his work ethic and dedication to two things: family and work. These early experiences instilled in him a sense of entrepreneurship and flexibility surrounding his career journey.
“You have to be open to doing different things, learning from experiences and taking professional detours. It’s more fluid in a way—it’s not so rigid or specific as it is here,” he notes. “You basically have to be a generalist on all things, regardless of which department you work in.”
Brizi was originally interested in finance, with his sights set on Wall Street, but he found a home in human resources for the past 27 years after he obtained his first HR position through one of his career detours. He now works as the chief human resources officer at Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) overseeing all functions in HR—from “hire to retire”: talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, talent management, leadership development, succession planning, team member engagement, culture and recognition, and DEI.
Starting a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t something Brizi thought he would ever do. Expected or not, the flexibility he learned early on came in handy and allowed Brizi and his team to continue their operations successfully.
“I’m pretty easygoing, and again one thing that Argentina gave me was the drive to overcome obstacles. You just don’t get too hung up on things. You just make it happen,” he states simply.
He estimates that he will have met most of the people and visited most of the properties by the end of 2021, even as the pandemic continues.
“I’m always looking at the glass half full. I like to talk about things that are positive,” he says.
For Brizi, there are no shortage of things to be positive about. In March 2021, HGV announced that it would acquire Diamond Resorts, a process that will more than double the size of the company when the deal closes. Brizi and his HGV team, whom he calls “the guardians of our culture,” are excited for the opportunity to integrate the new team members into the company.
It is HGV’s culture that drew Brizi to the company in the first place. The company, he explains, prioritizes diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company and puts its team members first.
“It is critical for companies to foster and encourage a sense of inclusiveness,” he says, adding that the executive team uses the equation “two ears and one mouth” to listen to their team members in both formal and informal channels.
DEI is something that is embedded into the company’s culture. Forty percent of HGV’s top-of-the-house management identify as women or minorities, and its CEO, along with two of seven directors are women and people from diverse backgrounds—including Brizi himself.
“These are the core of what we stand for. It’s who we are,” says Brizi, noting that the company’s mission is to “put people first to ensure team members become family, guests become owners, and owners become part of everything we do.”
Brizi accomplishes this mission by constantly fostering an inclusive culture of belonging for all HGV team members.
In addition, the company has six team member resource groups: African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, LGBTQ and friends, military, and women. Each group is sponsored by a senior executive who helps drive initiatives across the business.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that is being discussed a lot lately,” Brizi says. “These conversations require action, and I believe prioritizing a sustainable and supportive workplace and culture is critical.”
Despite the diversity already apparent within the hospitality industry, Brizi explains that it’s crucial for companies to continue to have dialog in order to make widespread change.
It’s especially important, Brizi adds, to look at diversity at the management level at companies. There may be a lot of diversity at the lower levels of a company but looking at how committed a business is to DEI can truly be seen in their senior management positions.
For his part, Brizi is incredibly grateful for the opportunities he was given by mentors in those higher-level roles. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be where I am today,” Brizi states. “I grew up in Argentina, and you don’t think those things are possible for you. It’s been very humbling.”