ann Sherry

Car­ni­val Aus­tralia

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Signature Profile -­ni­valaus­

Ann Sherry AO is a cap­tain of change. She be­came the first woman to head a bank and is cred­ited as the im­pe­tus that saw paid ma­ter­nity leave in­tro­duced to Aus­tralia. Mary-Anne Dibbs speaks with the force that rock­eted big ship cruis­ing into the mod­ern era and was re­cently named Aus­tralia’s most in­flu­en­tial woman.

Ann shERRy jumped from a suc­cess­ful bank­ing ca­reer to take the helm of Car­ni­val aus­tralia in 2007. Shortly af­ter, she shared her goal at an in­dus­try con­fer­ence: by 2020 one mil­lion aus­tralians will go cruis­ing each year. Col­lec­tively the mostly male au­di­ence scoffed at her au­da­cious tar­get.

“I was en­raged that day as I watched the eye­brows raise,” Sherry re­mem­bers. “So I just said that’s where we’re go­ing and you’re ei­ther with us or you’re not. one by one they’ve all come on board.”

Sherry’s goal was re­alised six years ahead of time in 2014. this year Car­ni­val alone will host one mil­lion pas­sen­gers and Sherry has set a new goal: by 2030, three mil­lion aus­tralians will be cruis­ing.

“I think big goals are re­ally im­por­tant be­cause they make peo­ple think dif­fer­ently,” she says.

Choice cruis­ing Car­ni­val has en­joyed 20 per cent growth each year since Sherry joined. aus­tralians are also reap­ing the re­wards be­cause big ship cruis­ing now of­fers ‘bou­tique’ op­tions.

Sherry be­lieves part­ner­ships are the key to busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity. along with her team, she works closely with gov­ern­ments in coun­tries such as Pa­pua new Guinea, Van­u­atu, new Cale­do­nia and the Solomons to cre­ate in­fra­struc­ture. now Car­ni­val’s fleet vis­its re­mote places that were once the do­main of small ex­pe­di­tion ships.

“We also work with the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. We treat them with re­spect and we help them build busi­nesses,” Sherry says. “Cruis­ing helps these com­mu­ni­ties build the things they want for their long-term fu­ture.” the win for aus­tralian cruis­ers is choice. “Some peo­ple are happy to en­joy the pris­tine beaches, oth­ers want more en­gage­ment,” Sherry says. “the peo­ple in these com­mu­ni­ties live very tra­di­tional life­styles and they in­vite our guests to go fish­ing and into their homes. they have opened their doors to aus­tralian tourists in a way ev­ery­one said wouldn’t be pos­si­ble.”

When names like ‘shared value’ and ‘au­then­tic lead­er­ship’ were be­ing coined, Sherry just got on and did it, part­ner­ing with aus­tralia’s celebrity chefs, wine­mak­ers and food providers to up the ante on Car­ni­val’s of­fer­ing. again, it was ‘win win’.

“now they feel cruis­ing is part of their growth story as well,” she says.

Dare to try Sherry al­ways hon­oured aus­tralian cruis­ing’s rich his­tory, but never felt con­strained by it. She part­nered with po­lice to en­sure on­board safety, lob­bied to open new ports in aus­tralia and brought more brands un­der the Car­ni­val ban­ner. to­day it em­braces Cu­nard, fathom, hol­land america line, P&o, Princess, Se­abourn and Car­ni­val.

Sherry’s voy­age to the top is fu­elled by a stun­ningly sim­ple lead­er­ship phi­los­o­phy: be your­self and be true to your­self. She lives the way she wants busi­ness done and es­sen­tially that means do­ing the right thing – for the com­pany, for oth­ers. She has a great sense of hu­mour, and of em­pa­thy. Both are in­te­gral to her lead­er­ship style, but per­haps the great­est clue to Sherry’s suc­cess lies in her child­hood, grow­ing up in the Queens­land town of Gympie.

“In the coun­try you grow up with very few bound­aries and I think that’s an ad­van­tage be­cause I don’t look for them,” she says.

“I think we’re rais­ing our girls to be per­fect rather than brave. as kids we’d fall over, pick our­selves up and learn from our mis­takes. It’s the same in busi­ness. You don’t have to be right all the time – no-one is. So my ad­vice is to be ready, be ro­bust, have a go and ask your­self: ‘what’s the worst that can hap­pen?’.”

Sherry is many things: Ceo, mother, wife and ‘hokey’ gar­dener. She sits on nu­mer­ous boards and is in­ter­ested in phi­lan­thropy and in com­mu­nity.

“I love all those things; why give them up just be­cause I’m a Ceo?” she says. “there are 24 hours in a day and I don’t waste many of them.”

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