HHS alumnus recognized for significant contributions, leadership in hospitality field

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa, rhoffa@purdue.edu

Jim Dora Jr. headshot

Jim Dora Jr.(Photo provided)

Jim Dora Jr., a 1986 Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences alumnus and president and CEO of General Hotels Corporation, has a photo on his desk from the launch of a water park at one of his hotels in the 2000s. A success until the 2008 recession, the water park marked just one instance of the innovation that Dora has maintained throughout his more than 30 years in the hospitality industry.

“One of the things my dad did that I think we’ve been able to continue with is being prepared and open to trying unique and different ideas and realizing that some things are going to fail, but you keep trying to find unique solutions to problems,” Dora said, who took over leading the family business that was started by his father. “There is really no status quo. You have to keep changing and doing new things.”

Dora has been part of General Hotels Corporation his entire life. While he started out just helping with odd jobs across the various hotels, he later was placed on payroll as a dishwasher. He has since served in nearly every department in the various hotels, including front desk, night audit, housekeeping, kitchen staff and laundry. This has given him a better understanding of the hotels and his employees doing the day-to-day work.

“I like the randomness of hospitality in dealing with different things every day,” Dora said. “It keeps things exciting and interesting.”

A recipient of the 2023 HHS Distinguished Service Award, Dora is being recognized for his significant contributions and leadership in the hospitality field. In addition to his role within General Hotels Corporation, Dora also serves in a variety of organizations to give back to the industry and the community, including the IHG Owners Association; the Capital Improvement Board of Managers in Indianapolis; and the White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Strategic Alliance Council, among others.

“I feel like my service to the Strategic Alliance Council and the hospitality school has been because I received a lot from the school, and one of the things my parents taught me is that you work to give back and support other people,” Dora said.

Dora poses with individuals all wearing Hawaiian shirts

Dora (left) and colleagues pose with “Survivor” star Rupert Boneham at their water park opening.(Photo provided)

While Dora has made strides in growing the business, maintaining the family atmosphere has remained a high priority. In doing so, Dora writes handwritten notes to each of the employees across the hotel properties on their company anniversary and works to promote a culture that supports all areas of the business.

“We have some people who have been with us for a long time,” Dora said. “I think, especially in hospitality, when you have employees who have been with you seven, eight, nine years, that’s a pretty big deal because a lot of times people don’t stay that long. We have a lot of people in the 15-, 20-, 25-year range and even a few that are past that. Their time is the most valuable thing they can give us — we try to be appreciative of that and provide them with good opportunities for growth.”

Although he arrived on Purdue’s campus with a solid foundation in hotel management from his family business, Dora noted that Purdue HTM helped him build his independence and develop his critical thinking.

“Purdue really taught you how to get to know different people from the student side, the faculty side and the opportunity side — it gave you a quick snapshot of the world, and it taught you how to be a problem solver,” Dora said.

Although Dora has seen hotels change over the years, including shifts from full-service to select-service hotels and higher demands in the speed of customer service, he noted that outstanding employees have remained a constant. He attributes much of his success to the people who operate the hotels every day.

“Nothing with all of this is about me, it’s really about all my people,” Dora said. “That’s really the most important thing.”