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Profile: Carrie Meghie, GM of the Hard Rock Hotel

With two new hotels on the way, Carrie Meghie is one busy woman.

Photograph: Dave Rentauskas

“Hell, no.”

That was Carrie Meghie’s first reaction last August when Stephen Westman, the operations analyst at the Hard Rock Hotel, brought up the idea of filming a reality show about what happens behind the scenes at the Michigan Avenue landmark. As executive vice president of Becker Ventures, the Michigan-based company that owns the hotel, Meghie often has the last word. Yet there’s one thing she knows about calling the shots: Don’t fire until you’ve had some sleep.

For Meghie, that took a while. Considering her workload, it’s questionable how much shut-eye she really gets. “Not very much,” the 38-year-old says from behind the desk in her dimly lit office at the Hard Rock. (She finally agreed to the show in May, after Westman convinced her it would book more rooms.) On top of her role as Becker’s EVP, Meghie serves as general manager of the hotel. She gets to work at 7am and logs 12-hour days in the office. She often works at home in the evenings and on the weekends. “But I’m working on fun things,” she says. “Yes, it’s work, but it’s things I’m excited about.”

Such as: Mr. Brown’s Lounge, the Jamaican restaurant/reggae club in Ukrainian Village she opened with her husband at the end of 2009. (Her husband, Terry, is Jamaican, and they’re both big fans of reggae music.) In the past several months, she’s also taken on a mountain of projects slated to come to fruition in the next few years, including opening two hotels, launching a restaurant and turning the Hard Rock’s 24th floor into a rooftop bar.

When the Hard Rock opened in 2004, DePaul alum Meghie was only three years into her job at Becker, fresh off a gig as a producer at travel website iExplore.com. Her father, who owns Becker, brought her on board as an owner’s representative to oversee the progress of the hotel while it was being built. As her role in the company has expanded, she’s moved from the sidelines of deals to the epicenter, deciding which ventures have enough potential to get the green light. But she values teamwork, one of the things that drew her to the Becker job while meticulously weighing the pros and cons of working with her dad. “[Working with your family] definitely has its challenges,” she says, “but who do you trust more than these people?” One challenge: meeting business contacts who assume she has her job just because of family ties. “Fortunately, once they work with me, that [point of view] changes quickly,” she says. Partnering with her husband on Mr. Brown’s presents a different obstacle: “We can talk work 24/7,” Meghie says. “We have to make sure we say, ‘no work talk’ at times.”

You’ll see more of Meghie’s all-business attitude during the still-untitled reality show, which could air as early as next spring if it gets picked up by a network. For the pilot, the production company filmed the group producing MOBfest, a series of rock concerts at the Hard Rock earlier this summer. Meghie had to go to London on business that weekend, so much of the episode features her dealing with the aftermath of her team running the event.

Meghie seems to have mixed feelings about the show. “I have no desire to be famous,” she says. But after the initial filming, she now appreciates how much humor can be found behind the scenes on a daily basis. “And if it’s going to help business…and I’m proud of what we do here and we have nothing to hide.”

She may not have anything to hide, but Meghie isn’t ready to share many details about her upcoming projects, mainly because deals are still being made. Of the two new hotels, she says Becker recently purchased the building next door to the Hard Rock, and it’s a strong possibility the space will become a boutique hotel. Becker has also partnered with Angels & Kings (the club co-owned by Pete Wentz that recently moved into the Hard Rock), and the company is investigating deals to open an Angels & Kings hotel in either New York or Chicago. Becker was also looking into buying the historic Art Deco Chicago Motor Club building, but another company bought it first. Meghie says Becker might work with that company on a project for the space, though she can’t say anything more right now. To keep track of all current and future projects, she maintains two to-do lists, jotting down her daily to-dos on paper and typing her master goals in Outlook.

“She’s so motivated to succeed,” Westman says. “Failure doesn’t exist in her world.”

Neither, it seems, does the idea that her world will implode if she goes five minutes without answering an e-mail. During our 45-minute conversation, Meghie, always focused on the task at hand, hasn’t checked her phone or computer once.

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