ATLANTA — Regynald G. Washington’s address to the spring 2019 MBAs and specialized master’s graduates of Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business cited the wisdom of Walt Disney, Will Rogers, Confucius and Eleanor Roosevelt. But the hospitality executive’s most memorable words to the Class of 2019 were his own.
“Be a maniac about excellence,” Washington told the 230 graduates at their May 8 commencement exercises at Georgia State Sports Arena. He emphasized that excellence is more important than financial compensation in the long run, because financial success comes from achieving excellence.
“Always focus on delivering excellence. Quality is never an accident. It is the result of attention to detail, intelligent direction and skillful execution. It represents the wiser choice of many alternatives,” said Washington, who is president of Paradies Lagardère Dining Division.
Washington encouraged graduates to take risks and be unafraid to fail, reminded them to stay focused and flexible, and warned that life doesn’t always happen according to plan, because “the road to success is always under construction.”
“You may take numerous detours. Keeping your focus will ensure you reach your destination successfully,” Washington said.
A longtime Atlanta resident renowned in the hospitality profession, Washington is a former elected officer and board member of the National Restaurant Association. From 2003-2004, he was chairman of its board. He has been involved with the Georgia Restaurant Association since its inception and won the organization’s Grace Award for Distinguished Service in 2016. On May 18, he was named the nation’s top foodservice operator when he received the Gold Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.
Washington has a longstanding relationship with the Robinson College and Georgia State. He has served on the advisory board of Robinson’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration for 19 years and recently was appointed to the Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2015, he endowed the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management program with a gift of $1,000,000 to cultivate future industry leaders. Eduniversal ranks his namesake program No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 15 worldwide.