Meet Jay, General Manager
Full Name: Jay Daly
Title: Senior General Manager, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
Jay Daly, Senior General Manager of Westfield Garden State Plaza, started with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield in 2013 after a 28-year career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Jay holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. At Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, Jay has guided his team through several re-development projects including a multi-million-dollar project to modernize the property that allowed Garden State Plaza to maintain its reputation as a flagship destination and leader in the industry. Jay’s brings effective leadership in operating first-class properties, passion for hospitality and a desire for outstanding guest experiences to Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield where he looks forward to continuing the successful development of Westfield Garden State Plaza and evolving Westfield Garden State Plaza into a world-class shopping, residential and experiential destination. Jay currently resides in New Jersey where he and his wife of 25 years have raised their two daughters. In his personal time Jay loves spending time with his family, exercising and enjoying outdoors activities.
In your own words, share your career story.
During my time in college in order to help pay for tuition I began working at a local bar and grill as a bartender. After graduating college, I was not clear what direction my life would take and how I would utilize my degree in psychology. I decided to continue bartending to support myself and begin paying back student loans. After several years of bartending I decided it was time for me to find a “real job”. A management position became available at the restaurant in which I was currently working, so I decided to apply for the job and finally made the choice to not pursue a career in psychology. After several interviews, I was hired as the Bar Manager and my career in Hospitality Management began. Throughout my career I worked for several different hospitality companies in a variety of positions; Bar Manager, Assistant Manager, Training Manager, Kitchen Manager, Assistant General Manager and General Manager. My career journey in hospitality presented me the opportunity to travel the country, live in seven different states and eventually meet my future wife. At one point in my career, while in the role of General Manager, I was unfortunately fired. Though being fired is never easy it was an especially difficult time for my wife and I as she was nine months pregnant with our first daughter. I did not have time to feel sorry for myself and immediately began searching for a new job. I was able to find a job as a General Manager with another hospitality company within twenty-nine days. The experience of being fired and the need to provide for my family fueled my desire to succeed even further. I continued my career as a General Manager which included intervals at Casual Dining, Fine Dining and Sports Celebrity restaurants. After twenty-eight years in the hospitality industry I decided to make a change. The hospitality industry is well known for long hours, long work weeks and sacrificing personal time. I wanted to spend more time with my wife and daughters and made the uncomfortable and scary decision to try something new. At that time, I was the General Manger of a restaurant located within Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey. I had little knowledge about property management but approached the General Manager of the mall and inquired about any available positions. There was nothing available at the time, but I checked back periodically. Nine months after I first inquired, the position of Assistant General Manager at Westfield Garden State Plaza became available and I applied for the position. I was awarded the position and worked as the Assistant General Manager at Garden State Plaza for four years. After my fourth year I was transferred to Westfield World Trade Center in New York and spent one year working there until I was offered the opportunity to come back to Garden State Plaza as Senior General Manager. Since becoming Senior General Manager at Garden State Plaza, I continue to grow both professionally and personally.
Who/what influenced or inspired you to become a Senior General Manager?
I was influenced and inspired by my wife and daughters to change careers and go into Property Management. Additionally, they were very supportive of my new career and my goal to become Senior General Manager.
What do you love most about your job? What are its biggest challenges?
What I love most about my job is the opportunity myself and my team have to provide a positive impact on our guests shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. Every day we must prepare our property by working together to ensure the property is safe, clean, comfortable and inviting. I also love engaging and interacting with our guests and building relationships. Garden State Plaza has been part of the local community for over sixty years and connecting with our visitors and learning about their experiences is very rewarding. One of the biggest challenges our team faces to ensure a positive impact on our guest’s experience are daily distractions in the operation of the property. There are continuous incidents that occur related to repair and maintenance, personal accidents, weather, traffic and the well-being of the public having the potential for the team to lose focus on our goals. Another challenge for Garden State Plaza is the very competitive market we are located in. Within a ten-mile radius of Garden State Plaza there a four other malls and numerous strip malls. Remaining the first choice for our guests to visit for their shopping, dining and entertainment needs is not a simple assignment.
How did you gain entry into the industry? What was your big break?
I gained entry into the industry by being persistent and building relationships. I had a goal in mind, and I didn’t give up on that goal. My big break came when the person in the position I eventually was hired for left for another opportunity. By continually checking in with the General Manager I didn’t allow an opportunity to slip away.
Do you have any words of advice?
My advice would be to never give up on your dreams or goals but remember the journey may take time. Throughout my career I have experienced extraordinarily rewarding moments but also challenging moments. I have grown to believed that whatever the situation and whatever you are experiencing it should be used as an opportunity to learn and grow. If there is one thing I would have wanted to know before starting my career journey it would be that challenges and failing can be just as inspirational and educational as success.