As the only female global CEO in the luxury cruise industry, Edie Rodriguez offers Debbi K. Kickham her insights about cruising, leadership, women, and all things Crystal.
EdiE RodRiguEz’s love of travel was inspired by a gift she received from her aunt when she was only six years old: a beautiful porcelain Geisha doll. Since then, she dreamed of visiting every country in the world.
today, as a 35-year veteran in the international cruise, travel and technology industries, and as President and Ceo of Crystal Cruises, Rodriguez has visited more than 100 countries on all seven continents. more importantly, Rodriguez oversees and leads not only Crystal Cruises, but the luxury cruise line’s impressive brand extensions including Crystal Yacht Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and the Crystal exclusive Class of ocean vessels, along with Crystal luxury air, including an elegant aCJ319 jet and a Bombardier Global express XRS taking to the skies from april 2016.
Rodriguez, a native new Yorker, started her career as a travel advisor after getting what she says was great career advice: “Find your passion, get a great education and follow it.” Rodriguez wasn’t sure how she would fund her wanderlust until she got a job in the travel industry.
Passion first her advice to young women starting out in their own careers? “First and foremost,” Rodriguez says, “It begins with the power of positive thinking and believing in yourself and believing you can accomplish what you set out to achieve. Find your passion, because work becomes life and life becomes work… When starting out, I was the first one to raise my hand and work a trade show over a weekend.” (Indeed, at school, she was also the first one to finish taking most tests, thus generating her nickname, ‘Speedy edie’.) “Set your own road map and game plan. Don’t be too proud to start at the bottom and work your way up. every opportunity is an opportunity to learn.”
Rodriguez says that despite the fact that women have shattered the glass ceiling, “It is the first quarter of 2016 and this subject of male versus female in the workplace still comes up. When I hire somebody, I do not care about their gender. I want the best person. I say ‘kudos’ to my former chairman and the current owners of Crystal. they both hired me because they believed I was the best person for the job. I have the ability to quickly listen, assess the situation and come up with a recommendation.”
her career has also taught her what she doesn’t want to be: “I wouldn’t want to be myopic and think I am the queen with all the answers. I like to not always be the smartest person in the room.”
Rodriguez says that it’s important to take risks in your career. “It is better to dare to fail than fail to dare,” she says, adding, “I am living my dream job.”
Pleasure seekers as a cruise industry insider, Rodriguez also knows about the types of travel that australians prefer: “I love australia, and not because Russell Crowe is my favourite actor,” she says. “australians are accustomed to sitting on planes for many hours, and they get more vacation time. they want exclusivity, and all of our brand extensions are perfect for australian guests.”
on a six-week vacation, for example, Rodriguez explains, “australians can go on a one-week Crystal cruise from Barcelona to Venice, then hop onto the Crystal yacht experience in Venice, then fly from Vienna to Dubrovnik for a Crystal river cruise.”
Clearly, Rodriguez is passionate about her work. “Cruising is a fabulous industry. We help people create memories of a lifetime and it’s beautiful. You can see so many countries without having to pack and re-pack.”
When she’s not working or cruising, Rodriguez enjoys simple pleasures such as going out for a dinner of pizza and wine. “I’m a cheap date,” she jokes. “But my biggest gift to myself is my house in tuscany that I bought myself last year. my husband says I treat myself well when the neiman-marcus bills come in every month.”