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Foodie CEO Recounts Hilton College Roots

After nearly three decades since she last set foot in Hilton College, Eric’s Club member Lily Ng (’89) returned to her alma mater as the featured speaker for the 34th Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series. Lily is the CEO of Foodie Group Limited and traveled from Hong Kong to attend the event, held April 12 in Alumni Hall.

Although Hilton College has changed – what used to be a gravel parking lot is now the South Wing courtyard – Lily said she noticed right away that the sense of community and the diversity she loved when she was a student remains the same.

Lily came straight to Houston after graduating from high school in her native Hong Kong, and Hilton College is where she quickly found her second home. Like many freshmen, she spent her first semester getting to know the school and found it especially welcoming.

“As a young immigrant trying to step out into the world, you often lose your bearings because there are so many changes and so many things coming at you,” she said. “But the school offered such a welcoming environment with really friendly and approachable professors and classmates who made the transition easy. I felt right at home right away, and made some of the best memories at the College."

Lily especially remembers Hospitality 101 with Dr. Susan Baker Sheridan and Food Safety and Sanitation with now Professor Emeritus Clinton Rappole, who later went on to found Eric’s Club. By her second semester, Lily had become fully immersed in the program, and set a high bar for her future. She said she has always been a proud “closet nerd” – a quality that has served her well throughout her distinguished career.

After graduation, she moved to Beverly Hills to join Hilton’s management training program. Since then, she has held executive positions in major global corporations with her expertise in hospitality management, food and beverage, media, digital marketing, content strategy, operations, property development and asset management. She also made time to attend graduate school, earning her MS in real estate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998.

In her current role, Lily has transformed Foodie magazine’s traditional print-based business into an award-winning digital platform, leading market trends and community-engagement solutions. With the company’s sound business model, it has seen unprecedented growth while bringing together people with a real passion for all things food and drink.

During her lecture, Lily shared her thoughts about building an impactful career with words she has lived and thrived by. She challenged our students to rise above all inevitable setbacks, to make their own luck and to never let the word “but” get in the way. She also inspired them to step out of their comfort zones, to set long-term directions for their careers and to do all things with passion.

At a Q&A reception following her lecture, Lily – as well as the other Eric’s Club members in attendance – proceeded to the Shamrock Ballroom to share their stories, network and offer career advice to nearly 100 students. This is the legacy of Eric’s Club – to connect, motivate, support and contribute to the College and its students, and to inspire the future leaders of the hospitality industry. For Lily Ng, mission accomplished!

If you missed Lily’s lecture, check out this video on her Eric’s Club bio page. And, click here to see photos of the event.

(Story & Photo: Pearl Cajoles)

Posted on April 25, 2018