Carnival, RCCL Take Opposite Approach To Hiring Leaders

Cruise Week

While there's commonality in the gender gap eroding at the 2 largest corporations in the business, there are clearly differences in the hiring approach of Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean for leadership spots in the past few months.

RCCL is appointing company veterans who worked up the ranks: Michael Bayley had been with the company for 33 years, moving over from being President & CEO of Celebrity to President & CEO of the larger Royal Caribbean International. He started his career as an assistant purser aboard the Nordic Prince.

Lutoff-Perlo had been with RCCL for 28 years before replacing Bayley as President & CEO of Celebrity. Most recently she was the Executive V.P. Operations for Royal Caribbean. Lutoff-Perlo began her career with Royal in the New England sales office.

Their ascent has come under the watchful eye of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman & CEO Richard Fain, who personally witnessed their success in various posts at the company. Fain joined Royal in 1979 as an outside director, becoming Chairman & CEO in 1988.

At the time of Bayley's and Lutoff-Perlo's most recent elevation, it was telling that Fain said of them: "I am impressed with the skills they have demonstrated over the course of their careers, and I am excited to see where they take these powerful brands next."

In contrast at Carnival Corp., Holland America Line and CCL not only moved to outside of the industry for their brand presidents, but their backgrounds were unusual for any brand presidents in the business. In a sense, these appointments represent the very opposite of what Royal Caribbean is doing.

Duffy officially moves over to Carnival on February 1st after more than 4 years of heading up CLIA. Never before has an association CEO moved into the role of heading up a cruise industry brand.

When Orlando Ashford became President of Holland America Line he was cited for, among other things, his background in human resources, as President of the Talent Business Segment of Mercer, a global consulting company. Ashford's career path bears few similarities to other presidents in the business, but his interests in human capital are relevant to the cruise industry. When President of Mercer's Global Talent Business he wrote a book called "Talentism: Unlocking the Power of the New Human Ecosystem."

He tells Cruise Week that Holland America Line serves a diverse and global guest population, so it is very important to have diversity reflected in its leadership and the employee base. "I firmly believe in the concept of collective intelligence and the power of group thinking," says Ashford. "When you combine a diverse team with a collaborative environment, you deliver better results."

Ashford’s hiring is reflective of the new Carnival Corporation. CEO Arnold Donald spent most of his successful career outside of the cruise business. He joined Carnival's board in 2001, but, unlike Fain, Donald never held the day-to-day jobs at the company itself until becoming CEO.

Like the new presidents of Holland America and Carnival, part of Donald's mission is seen as bringing fresh perspectives to the corporate giant and both Ashford and Duffy bring much to the table in that regard.

Said one insider of Duffy shortly before her hiring at Carnival: "Cruise execs like the fact that she gets stuff done and she's smart. She has a background in travel, but she also deals with the public affairs/government affairs as well as anybody and that's not easy."

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