Senior Staff

Eric Gustavson, Co-Founder and President

Eric brings over thirty years of lodging, voice center and Internet reservations product development experience to Topaz. In 1986 he pioneered the city-based central-800# concept for hotel reservations in San Francisco. In 1994 with Eric Fraser, consulting engineer, he co-created one of the first on-line hotel reservation systems, In 1998, he brought that capability to individual hotel and hotel management company websites with In that same time frame, Eric oversaw the launch of Topaz private-label central call center reservation services for the San Francisco Convention & Visitors bureau.

Jill Gustavson, Co-Founder and Vice President for Business Development

Jill brings years of experience in sales, client relations, marketing and operations to Topaz from her early career at the Fortune Five Hundred company, McGraw-Hill. Jill is the driving force behind the business development at Topaz. Her emphasis has been to evolve our value-based presentation, which highlights the company’s leading-edge technology and superior quality of service offered by Topaz to clients and their guests. She feels strongly that “what we do is important yet how we do it is vital to customer satisfaction and the continued growth of Topaz.”

Jill enjoys writing, reading novels, walking the trails of Marin County near her home, and enjoying great food and wine with her husband Eric, family and friends.

Donald Miller, Vice President of Operations

Don received a Bachelor Degree in Music Performance from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell in 1981. As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, he founded and conducted the UMass-Lowell Marimba Ensemble for which he authored many transcriptions in the jazz and classical music idioms. Work in the hospitality industry began largely as a means to put him through music conservatory. Driven to excel, Don rose to become Assistant General Manager for a 200-room hotel, conference center and health club in Massachusetts.

Don joined Topaz Hotel Services in 1989 with a depth of knowledge that comes with many years experience in the hotel industry. During his 30 year tenure at Topaz, Don has helped to drive operations for several of our divisions. As VP of Operations, he ensures stable and reliable operation of the Topaz Voice Center services, Telecommunication systems and Accounting.

“I find working a Topaz Hotel Services particularly rewarding. As part of a team of professionals supporting a strong portfolio of services and a large diverse group of hotel partners, each day brings an opportunity to learn something new about technology, the travel business and about myself.”

While not at the office, Don is a devoted husband and father, He spends his free time as a dance and baseball dad.

Susan Marie Shebalin, Director of Contact Center Reservations and Quality Assurance

Susan Marie has been with Topaz since 1995. While keeping in mind Topaz’ main goal of providing Genuine Hospitality, she ensures the effective monitoring, training and coaching of her staff. Under Susan’s stewardship, the Topaz voice center consistently receives accolades from its hotel clients and guests for accuracy, quality of service, and sales performance.

She is a proud 5th Generation San Franciscan, who fell in love with the hospitality industry while living and working in Europe. While working at her first hotel job in a quaint little inn in Austria, and not knowing a word of the language, she came to realize just how much a smile speaks in all languages. After Susan joined Topaz, the concept of the “Phone Smile” became a part of each Reservations Sales Associate’s repertoire.

Susan Marie loves photography, swimming everyday and cherishes the time she spends with her family and friends.

Gabriel Ruiz, Director of Client Relations

Gabriel is a home-grown talent who has been with the company since 1997. Gabriel is well-versed in the different aspects of the company, having started as a Reservations Sales Associate. He is still known to take a reservation call from time-to-time for old times’ sake.

Gabriel has been responsible for training and operations. He has extensive system expertise, as well as being our internal and external liaison. He is the main contact for existing clients, and shepherds the on-boarding of new clients, and ensures prosperous partnerships.

Gabriel enjoys reading the works of author Wendell Berry, likes music by Joe Strummer, and is a die-hard San Francisco Giants Fan. He lives with his wife and daughter in Alameda.

Arnold Bernabe, Senior Software Engineer

Arnold joined Topaz in 2005.  He graduated from De La Salle University, Manila Philippines with a Bachelor’s degree from their highly accredited Computer Science Program, majoring in Computer Engineering.  He worked as a Programmer/Analyst for Amkor Technology in the Philippines and has completed graduate courses in the interim, including System Programming and Website Development from California State University East Bay, as well as User Needs and Usability Assessment for Software Projects at UC Santa Cruz Extension.  Arnold uses his high degree of expertise maintaining existing company software functionality, custom-designing Topaz booking engine products and developing call center reporting. He does all of the development work for us, both front-end and back-end, including our web-based Call Center Application, C5.  He has also completed and continue to work on the interface programs that allow C5 to connect with hotels’ property management systems.

Nawal Khattri, Systems Manager 

Nawal first joined Topaz in 1993 and worked 4 years as a reservations agent. He left Topaz in 1997 to pursue higher education and a career in the high tech industry. After working over 12 years in the Information Technology field, Nawal came back to Topaz in 2010 as Systems Manager. He is currently responsible for network & system administration, desktop support, and technical support to external customers.