Ca­reer in Fo­cus

Travel Bulletin - - CONTENTS - JOANA BONTO Ex­cite Hol­i­days, Di­rec­tor of HR, Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence & Op­er­a­tions

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?

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