Career in Focus
What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
I started at Excite almost five years ago now as the Director of HR and after a couple of years I took over the sales, marketing and operation divisions in the company however that was not sustainable and have since passed my hats on. I now just look after HR, Operations and Customer Experience globally.
How did you start out in your career? Why the travel industry?
I had recently come back from a three year stint in London and ended up at Circuit Travel (Globus, Cosmos and Avalon Waterways brand) under the direction and leadership of Stewart Williams. I started my career there as his Ea/office Manager and then became the Hr/admin Exec for both Australia and New Zealand where I remained for five and half years. I was extremely fortunate that I was able to take on and learn HR and that Stewart was so supportive. Without that start, I would not have been able to go to Stamford Hotels and Resorts and become HR Manager for one of their properties, working my way up to an Area HR role then later becoming the National Director of HR & OHS.
Did you complete formal qualifications and how have they helped you in your career?
In my earlier years I studied Business Marketing. My dream was to always get into marketing however I ended up in HR and apparently I was good at it. My entire HR methodology is actually built from marketing principles. However, as I started to build my career in HR it was extremely important to me to educate and develop myself within this field, so I slowly did that through smaller certifications and courses. My goal is to finish my Masters in HR Management this year and then complete an MBA within the next few years before I hit 40. I work for a company that has an exclamation mark in their name and the name says it all. What I love most about my job is just how different each and every single day is and that I get to make a difference and be that driving force. My job is dynamic, fun, innovative and it allows me to be creative, strategic and analytical at the same time. I also love the fact that I get to collaborate with the greatest of minds. There’s never a dull moment at Excite Holidays.
What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve had in your career?
As a young female executive I have had the privilege and honour of sitting in board and executive level meetings, however it has also been challenging because as a woman and a single mother, I have had to work twice as hard to prove myself to others and myself. I remember after giving birth to my daughter, I got on a teleconference the next day as I was negotiating a national enterprise agreement with the unions for Stamford Hotels. I didn’t want being a mother to stop me from also having a career, so it’s been a very tough and challenging balancing act. One that thankfully, I have managed to conquer. Luckily for me, my daughter absolutely understands and I get to take her with me when I travel, which she loves.
What factors are key to a successful career?
It is through sheer perseverance, passion and just sticking to your vision and purpose and being absolutely passionate. I have always set high expectations for myself, as well as others around me. I think it’s also important to be a strong leader, have a clear strategy and utilise the resources around you to get things done.
Is having a mentor an essential part of getting ahead in a career? Do you have one?
Absolutely. I have always had the greatest of mentors. When I was in London working for Credit Suisse, I was fortunate enough to work with the smartest and most incredible people who shaped my thinking at an early age. At Excite Holidays, we have a leadership coach, Peter Cox, who comes in once a month and mentors our leaders. I also have a male and female mentor who are both very different, one is very business and entrepreneurial, the other is more about personal development, philanthropy and giving back. I am also hoping to join the TIME mentoring program this year because I also believe in learning from the best of the best in the industry.
What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Follow your dreams, just be yourself but also be ready to listen, learn and adapt. Always be transparent, open and honest. Having thick skin also goes a long way. Lastly, always have the courage to stand by your values and what you believe is right.
I think it’s important to be a strong leader, have a clear strategy and utilise the resources around you done’ to get things What do you love about your job?