We chat to South African Tourism’s country manager, Australasia, about being travel-obsessed, trust, and pumping South African tunes in the office.
Can you tell us a little about your career progression?
I’ve been always been fascinated with travel from a very young age, even in school I was always the kid who befriended international students that were on exchange programs. The people I met from different parts of the world from being part of international organizations at university only made me more curious about understanding different people and their cultures.
I have a background in media and journalism and I had experience both in the government and private sector, so my interests have always been far and wide, with international relations and marketing being central to the opportunities that I pursued.
It was only in 2009 that I formally worked in the tourism industry as the Chief Marketing Officer for the North West Parks and Tourism Board – North West is one of the nine provinces of South Africa – and subsequent to that I was appointed by South African Tourism for the role based in Australia and this is now my fifth year with the company.
What would you say is your defining career achievement or the thing you are most proud of?
I have quite a few, however what stands out the most was when South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup back in 2010. What we achieved on that project both as a country and for me individually will always have a very special place in my memory.
What have been the biggest challenges to success you’ve encountered professionally?
I would have to say the biggest challenge has been getting out of my comfort zone and moving to a new country and getting to know a new market. But it’s those big challenges that ultimately lead to the greatest growth and I’m grateful for those opportunities in my career.
With the benefit of wisdom, what advice would you give your 21 year old self when you were starting out in your career?
Are you suggesting I’m older than 21? I would say to always be open minded, listen to the more experienced people that you encounter and to definitely travel as much you can. Actually, that’s advice you never grow out of.
How would you describe your business/management style? What sort of things are most important to you professionally?
I believe the most important approach you can take with your team is to listen and be receptive, to demonstrate trust and give them the freedom to take on the projects they believe in and deliver their own achievements. I like to foster a fun, happy environment that allows people to be themselves without pretension so they can make the greatest contribution with their individual talents.
I personally believe an environment conducive to career development is one of the greatest assets you can offer any employee and witnessing them reach their defining career moments drives me professionally and that makes me proud in my capacity as a leader.
Who are the people you admire most professionally or in any field/walk of life?
It’s always a difficult question for me to respond to because I admire quite a few people for their individual merits.
What do you do to unwind when you aren’t working? What is most important to you outside the office?
I enjoy great music from all parts of the world as well as reading anything and everything. The most important thing in my life is my family and friends.
What’s the best thing about working in the travel industry?
It’s a fun industry mostly populated by like-minded people.
What one thing gets you through a stressful day?
Pumping some great South African tunes in the office – you can’t listen to that music and not feel uplifted – and it makes me think about my beautiful country.
You can see the other ladies from our exclusive Women in Travel series here: