It’s fair to say that if it weren’t for blind ads in the newspaper, Pat Gallagher would not have the career that she does.
The Fort Scott native moved to the Washington, D.C, area after college because her husband took a job there.
“So I answered a blind ad in the newspaper and went to work for what eventually became the Marriott Corporation,” Gallagher said. “They were thinking about going into the hotel business.”
She worked there for a decade before taking off for a decade to have children. Then Gallagher returned to Marriott for about five years before coming back to Kansas.
When she moved to Wichita, she responded to two blind ads in the paper. One was for a Hilton hotel near the airport, where she worked for about six weeks before another blind ad she answered came through. That was from what’s now called the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Gallagher became executive assistant to the chamber’s president. That was 30 years ago. Gallagher’s titles have changed through the years. Today, she’s manager of government relations, which is the lobbying arm of the chamber, and military liaison. McConnell Air Force Base has awarded Gallagher its Golden Eagle distinction, which comes with its own hat, for service to the base.
Q. What lessons from your Marriott days do you still think of today?
A. Well, I will never forget Bill Marriott’s philosophy on management, which was management by walking around. And I think that was a great lesson learned in that if you get to know your people, they have more of a vested interest in you and your business. If you care about them, they care about you. And I think that is applicable not only in business but in personal relationships.
Q. How dramatically did the company change while you were there?
A. When I left there, they had just opened their 120th hotel. I think the exciting thing about that for me was being in on the ground floor of what eventually became a multibillion dollar corporation.
Q. What kind of changes have you seen at the Chamber over the years?
A. I would say the biggest change is just … the way we do and fund economic development and how I guess the effort has grown. … It’s not that it wasn’t professional back then. It was. Now the scope … is bigger. It’s not just what’s good for Wichita or Sedgwick County. We look at a much bigger picture, I think, than we used to.
Q. Even though they were blind ads you answered, you’ve wound up in careers that have been good for you, right?
A. I’ve always … loved what I do. I can’t imagine not being excited about getting up and going to work in the morning. This has been a perfect opportunity for me to do what I love the most, and that is to interact with lots of people.
Q. You don’t have anything left on your career bucket list, but you do on your personal one. What is it?
A. I have always wanted to teach an adult to read … because I just feel that that is the greatest gift, and if you cannot read, you are just wading through life. … I love to read. You can lose yourself in a book. It’s a great escape, and I would love to share that ability with someone who needs to know it to survive.