Events

Women in Travel Awards winners’ circle: Penny Spencer, Spencer Travel

If you haven’t entered the Women in Travel Awards yet or nominated all the incredible women you work with, we’ve got good news for you!

Entries don’t close until Thursday 9 April at 5pm (AEST), so you still have some time up your sleeve.

Submit your entry now HERE and/or nominate one of your peers HERE. And for more information on the awards, click HERE.

HOWEVER! We strongly advise you don’t leave your application(s) until the last minute, as spruiking yourself can be a daunting task which can only be made worse under pressure.

To give you some inspiration to get cracking, we sat down with Penny Spencer, managing director of Spencer Travel, which was named Employer of the Year at last year’s Women in Travel Awards.

Here’s what she had to say:

How has winning at last year’s Women in Travel Awards positively impacted your career?

It is always nice to be recognised, and winning the award has enhanced my profile in the industry as a female leader.

What drew you to work in the travel industry? What makes it worthwhile?

I knew I wanted to be in the industry since I was nine years old. It has always excited me and still does to this day. I have a passion for the travel industry, as it is so diverse in career choices, but also the opportunities plus learning something new every day.

Have you noticed any changes in opportunities for women in the industry over the time that you’ve worked in it?

Over the last 30 years, there have definitely been changes in opportunities for women in the travel industry. There are more executive roles, women are listened to and respected in their roles.

When I started in the industry, I had female bosses that carried me through my career, but the respect of women’s work/life balance was not taken into account as it is now. When women went on maternity leave, it generally meant a backward step in your career – now that is not the case.

What are some of the challenges women face in today’s travel industry? How can they be overcome?

I think women face challenges in any industry – not just the travel industry. Juggling family and work is always a struggle for any parent, but I do believe the flexible workplace overcomes a lot of those issues now with working-from-home options and flexible work times.

Has your gender contributed to any challenges throughout your career? If so, how have you overcome them?

Starting a business as a woman in the late 90s definitely had its challenges. Bank managers not taking me seriously, talking to other CEOs who may have talked down to me – but, mostly, I have been supported as a woman in business.

What changes would you like to see in the industry to make it more inclusive for women and other minority groups?

I believe this is already happening through the #MeToo movement, flexible workplaces, inclusion, and strict bullying policies.

Do you think there needs to be more of an industry-wide push to get more females into senior roles?

No, I think this is already happening.

What policies and initiatives does Spencer Travel have in place to promote diversity and attract and foster female talent?

I believe in it being the right person for the job – not the right sex. We hire based on values, and that attracts the right person for our culture and company.

Why do you think events like the Women in Travel Awards need to continue occurring?

Any awards programme is good for our industry. It profiles excellence and professionalism, which is good for any industry.

What advice do you have for those wanting to enter this year’s awards?

It’s always refreshing and rewarding to look at what you have achieved – we never take the time to look at where we have come from and where we are now. Entering awards helps us reflect and recognise, and this is very important in your career.

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