Ian Carter, president of global development, architecture, design and construction at Hilton, remembers the first time he addressed his team after joining Hilton International as CEO in 2005.

“I had about 1,000 people in a room in London, and I said, ‘The only experience in hotels I can offer you right now is that I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels,’” he said. “’In the next two years I expect to learn a lot,’ I told them. And we did.”

Carter announced today he will step down in December from Hilton, following a 15-year career in hotel development with the company that spanned numerous countries, ownership changes and industry cycles.

When he leaves the company at the end of 2020, it will be to pursue other interests, likely in non-executive roles and board positions—a side of his professional life he has explored for years alongside his role at Hilton with companies including Burberry Group, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group and Servpro, among others.

“I’ve always said I would never leave Hilton for another hotel company,” he said. “Hilton is the best in the industry. We have built an incredible team across the company. It’s unfortunately hit an unforeseen and devastating—at least for now—crisis in COVID-19. We’ve had tough news to deliver this week, but if we look ahead, I think the company will be well-positioned for the medium and long term.”

To that end, Carter said the timing was right and he’s happy to leave the company “after 15 fantastic years,” knowing that the leadership and teams in place at Hilton are made up of “extremely seasoned, great individuals and great teams with lots and lots of experience.”

“I met (Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta*) 15 years ago, and we’ve been on this ride ever since,” Carter said. “I’ve seen the company from many different angles and have met lots of great people.”

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