Power Women: Judy Hendrick
Aimbridge Hospitality CFO Judy Hendrick likes transactions and loves to win. Under her financial leadership, Aimbridge Hospitality has grown from 40 hotels to 200 and is making the leap to the second largest independent hotel company in the country. We’re honoring Judy as one of Bisnow’s 2014 Power Women in Commercial Real Estate on June 3 at the Dallas Arboretum. Come be a part of the festivities and register now!
Judy, here with Aimbridge prez and CEO Dave Johnson, plays a key role in guiding Aimbridge's investment and business development strategies. She’s responsible for the company's debt and equity capital sourcing and structuring for acquisitions, development and redevelopment of hotels, and management of the financial, cash management, and real estate aspects of all properties and partnerships. As the company has grown, investors have been knocking on the door, she says. Lee Equity Partners came on board in October and wants to see Aimbridge be the No. 1 independent hotel company in size and quality. The first board meeting was late last year and now Aimbridge is in the midst of identifying targets to take over, she says. (The takeaway message here is don't play against her in Risk.)
Judy (with husband, Tom, in Amsterdam last year) tells us she joined Aimbridge in ’07 when Dave and Aimbridge chairman Les Bentley sought her out. She knew them from their days at Wyndham, she says, and they were building this company and wanted her on the team. “I’m a big believer that relationships are key to success in life,” she says. She started her career in the banking industry, earning her MBA at UTD going to night school. She spent the '80s in banking (who didn't?) and real estate lending. By ’91, the banks were failing, so she landed at Wyndham Hotels working through the company’s start as a small partnership, then a REIT, then an IPO. After the IPO, the company grew to more than 400 hotels and she was named EVP and chief investment officer. The rapid growth attracted the attention of Blackstone, which acquired Wyndham in ’05, split the company and moved the HQ out of state. She did some consulting with other hospitality firms engaged in developing several Ritz Carlton hotels before joining Aimbridge.
Judy (here with her siblings, her dad, and her uncle at her dad’s alma mater, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where he was honored for lifetime achievement in the ministry) says her advice for young people entering the industry is to be a unifier. “Don’t divide people and don’t let it be ‘all about me.’ Truly successful companies are built with people who take the leadership role and unite rather than divide,” she says. It’s also important to look at the company culture when taking a new job. Find where you fit in, because it’s easier for a company to grow when the stress on the infrastructure is supported by a team, she says. (Wish someone had given us that advice in high school.)
Here’s Judy with some of her family on a trip to Italy last year. She tells us that she and Tom love to travel. He’s a luxury hotel developer, so she had to drag him on the African safari they went on a few years ago. He’s all about five-star hotels, she says. Bora Bora is on the to-do list. She has two daughters, Ashley in Dallas and Rachel in California (along with two granddaughters there). Join us in the celebration by registering here.