Holly Watt O’Neill

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 36

Job Title: Director of Sales and Marketing, Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton South

Why She’s Top 40: She has used her marketing skills to help charitable organizations and the city.

Guilty Pleasure: “Travelling. I’ve chosen not to have kids so that I can explore the beaches of Maui.”

Growing up in the northern Alberta village of Rycroft, population 700, Holly Watt-O’Neill’s favourite toy was a globe. Never one to sit still, she found herself in office administration at Grande Prairie Regional College only thanks to a broken leg. She stayed until the bone set, then headed to Asia so she could teach English.

After almost three years overseas, her search for adventure brought her back to Alberta in 2002, where she represented some of North America’s top comedic talents (Tommy Chong was a favourite) in Calgary, later transferring to Edmonton. She promoted sold-out shows for Bob Saget, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Pauly Shore. “I’ve seen a lot of comedy shows. So many that, because I was always critiquing, they stopped being fun.”

In 2010, she changed course and became a sales manager for Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton South. Her bottomless energy and ability to not take “no” for an answer was a perfect fit.

“I’ve always been a seller at heart,” says Watt-O’Neill. “I’m not into aggressive sales; instead, I pick up the phone. I feel confident in my product, and depend on relationships to make my targets.”

In 2011, her small sales team won Team of the Year within its North American division and Watt-O’Neill exceeded her goals by $1 million.

Now a director, she manages a team of six and oversees a budget of over $5 million in anticipated gross revenues.

“I focus on positive affirmation and constantly work to not put those mental blocks up – blocks like ‘you can’t,'” says Watt-O’Neill.

She’s translated her skills into the community, voluntarily marketing the city through the Facebook page, Edmonton Alberta Canada (a site with almost 30,000 likes), and helped raise more than $1 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation with the event, Laughing for Cancer. Through her work on the board of the Edmonton Comedy Festival, Watt-O’Neill has actively promoted local talent.

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