Short Course Alumni – Meet Karola Finley

Former Admin for El Paso Hotel and Lodging Association

Arriving in El Paso Texas from Germany when she was 7 years old, Karola began an interesting path to the hospitality industry.

She remembers going from being laughed at for her ‘foreign’ language to establishing lasting roots, from first grade through college, in El Paso.

After marrying the ‘love of her life’ who was in the Marine Corps, she spent the next 25 years traveling with him throughout the US, Okinawa, Japan and S. Korea, including a four-year post back in El Paso.

When her husband’s military service ended, they moved to upstate New York where she moved on from her full-time duty as military wife and mother and began teaching K-6th grade. She specialized in Special Needs Education, also worked in a Doctor’s office, and ultimately opened her own daycare.

After news of her mother’s health decline, they moved back to El Paso to be close to her.  And there her hospitality career began.

What’s your name and job title?

Karola Finley – GM of the Wingate El Paso Airport

How long have you been in the hospitality industry?

I began my hospitality career in November of 1997. So, just over 20 years.

What was your first hotel industry job?

Receptionist for Hilton El Paso Airport, working with GM Richard Cane.

What is your hometown?

I arrived in El Paso, Texas from Germany when I was seven years old.

What is the best advice/motto you go by?

One thing Mr. Cane taught me was the value of promoting from within because it not only allows for the growth of the employee’s career but also maintains the quality of training and consistency of the Brand. It benefits both the employee and the property.

Who invested in you attending Short Course?

Soon after being promoted to Administrative Assistant, Mr. Cane decided it was time for me to attend the Short Course.  

How has attending Short Course influenced your job?

Short Course was the most educational training within the Hospitality field I’ve experienced. The interaction between the classroom training to skits made the week fly by. The entire course was amazing from start to finish.  

What was your most memorable moment at Short Course?

I met the most fascinating people at Short Course, one of whom was Don Hanson. It was such a privilege to meet Mr. Hanson.

Why would you recommend others to attend Short Course?

In the years following my Short Course training, I became the Human Resource Director at the Hilton El Paso Airport for four years. Then my career led me to become the GM of the Wingate El Paso Airport.  At that time I also assisted with seven other hotels.

I take great pride in the fact that during my years of GM I could see many of my employees grow and become GM’s, senior accountants, sales managers, and directors. Many of which had also attended the Short Course.

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