Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Cunard’s Katrina McAlpine

This week, we caught up with Cunard’s commercial director for Australia and New Zealand, Katrina McAlpine, to find out how she’s been faring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you reading?

I am reading a brilliant and harrowing memoir called The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory by Corey White.  It’s about an Australian who went through the foster care system in recent years and reminisces on his parents as he remembers them, as well as different foster families. It’s a brilliant read – sad, honest and ultimately uplifting (well, so I am told – I haven’t quite finished yet).

What are you watching?

Godfather of Halem – it’s such a great show.  I am keenly waiting for the release of the new Peaky Blinders season and Yellowstone’s new season too!

What are you listening to?

I find myself listening to a lot of music from home like six60, a local NZ band, and just some older music that I grew up hearing. Also, I have just been introduced to Joe Rogan’s podcast – where have you been all of COVID?!

What are you cooking?

Now that the weather is cooling down, it’s a great time to bring the slow cooker out and cook up some easy and hearty dinners.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

Since COVID hit, I have been doing a lot more yoga both in-studio and at home. I also started doing karate eight months ago, inspired by my five-year-old son. I am absolutely loving it because it’s not only been great for my fitness, but it has also been a great way to step out of my comfort zone, meet some great people and, of course, form a new connection with my son.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

We have all realised that bringing the human element into work is 100 per cent okay. Not only have we gotten to know our peers’ home design in the background of a Zoom call, but we have also seen their kids, who regularly pop in and out. I love that because you actually get to know more about the person on the other side of the video call. I now know most of my colleagues’ kids by name and even had a chat to them.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I realised that I wanted to be able to give back to the community in a meaningful way, so I have since become a trained volunteer youth mentor with an organisation called Raise. It’s a program where you spend an hour a week at the allocated high school for the best part of three school terms, and work with a mentee, who has been identified as at risk of disengagement. The youth that we are working with are so awesome, and are all teaching us so much about ourselves too. They’re a really cool bunch of kids! I encourage anyone who might be interested in volunteering in a program like this to check out raise.org.au.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

Find meaning and satisfaction in other areas of life outside of work. Work is really important, but so is finding that balance. Now, more than ever, is a great time to relook at other areas of your life that give you meaning. Invest in yourself and go and do that class you have always wanted to try, or look up some online training courses and upskill, or reconnect with friends and family. Whatever balance and meaning looks like for you, try and find that.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

Kangaroo Island – it is a natural and raw beauty. The wildlife, rugged landscapes and mini-ecosystems that have developed there are absolutely amazing. And I kid you not, I actually saw a koala walk out of a bar – it sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s absolutely a true story!

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

This takes me back to the summer of 2018 when I travelled through the Provence region in the south of France.  I spent the day exploring country villages such as Gordes and Sault, indulging in the most amazing local produce at the markets, and of course visiting the incredible lavender fields all around that area. I finished off by sitting in this beautiful rustic restaurant called La Bergerie, drinking a local glass of rosé, eating truffle pizza whilst watching the sunset. I have caught myself a couple of times flicking through photos from this trip to bring back the memories!

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

Definitely back to Europe – there are so many amazing places to explore. I really want to get off the beaten track a little and see a few more of the lesser-known gems such as the Lofoten Islands in Norway or Meteroa Monastaries in Greece. I can imagine those two being really unique and tranquil experiences.


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