Ana Karla Benitez Ibarra: Celebrating Diversity In Hospitality

Started as: Hospitality Intern

Currently: Campus Recruiter

Whatever it is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.

Ana Karla Benitez Ibarra has always been an advocate for diversity in the hospitality industry.  

Born in the United States and growing up in Mexico, Ana has always had a foot in both worlds. When she was in high school, Ana took a leap of faith and decided to leave her hometown in Mexico City for a chance to go to high school in San Antonio, TX.  

Facing every day challenges were exacerbated due to a language barrier and culture shock “My strong accent made me stand out for all of the wrong reasons, at that age the most important thing for me was to be able to fit in. This stamp allowed me to open conversations about representation and minority opportunities. I grew to love it,” said Ana Karla. 

With dreams of becoming a flight attendant, travel always captured her attention. Little did she know, an ambitious career in the hotel industry was calling her name. After deciding to attend a local community college followed by the University of Houston – both of which she majored in tourism and hospitality. 

During that time, she attended a DE&I-focused hospitality conference – motivating her to run for the national board of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. In 2019, she was selected to serve as the board’s public relations director – cementing her passion for expanding diversity into the industry. From attending conferences to speaking in both English and Spanish, Ana Karla learned how to become a leader in the hospitality arena.  

“I want to inspire people from all walks of life to join the hotel industry because it is an industry for everyone. I strive to be a leader and mentor in my community because I feel that all of us together make hospitality better.” 

After graduating from University of Houston, Ana Karla slowly rose through the ranks from working as a hospitality intern to landing a job as a front desk agent at her dream hotel. In less than a year, she was promoted to an Assistant Front Desk Manager –gaining more responsibility professionally. In October 2021, she received the chance of a lifetime by becoming Hilton´s CALA Manager Campus Recruiter. In this role, Ana Karla can share her passion for the hospitality industry with others. As she continues to shine and grow in the hotel industry, Ana Karla exemplifies the future of hospitality.   

“I am a firm believer that success in not a destination, but a journey. It’s all about being inspired by others and what better way than representing a minority that just a few years ago had very little exposure, diversity is a fact but inclusion is a choice.”