She accidentally landed a travel job straight out of school and ended up working with everyone’s dream boss (Richard Branson) before climbing her way up the ranks to the leading role at Norway’s cruise group, Hurtigruten. Find out why 30 years on Kathryn says there’s no better career for her and how George Clooney plays a role in her dream vacay.
What drew you to work in the travel industry?
Fate! I wanted to be a journalist but before I went down that road my father suggested I had a few interviews to get some experience. My first interview was with a Retail Travel Agent and when they said I had the job I responded by saying I would have to ask my Dad! 30 years later I can’t think of a better career.
What do you like most about your job?
The variety of my role ensures that every day there are new challenges and experiences to be gained. It also affords me some fantastic opportunities of visiting wonderful places and above all meeting great people. I take the opportunity of wherever I go to chat to people as this is where I gain my best insights and also they give me my best ideas.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the travel industry?
I worked for Virgin for many years at a time when Richard Branson was still very ‘hands on’ in the company. His philosophy was that your internal customers (your staff) must always come first as they are your brand ambassadors; treat staff right and this will automatically follow through to customers. His energy and vision never ceased to amaze me.
What do you want to see improve in the industry?
I would like to see the industry recognised as a profession and therefore reward and renumerate staff accordingly. I know this is a difficult ‘ask’ given the margins that the industry works on but gone are the days when low pay was compensated by the fact that staff could enjoy numerous travel benefits.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
My bucket list is more the size of a wheel barrow; there are so many places I want to visit. I would love to experience Antarctica on our ship The Fram as we have such brilliant reports, I want to explore more of Asia and I also want to visit more places in the UK – just to name a few.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had?
My most memorable experiences don’t involve five star hotels or opulence but are experiences which attack the senses. Africa is a continent I love and I have been privileged to take part in many safaris and the sights, sounds and smells that you encounter are amazing. Also standing on deck on one of our ships, in a quiet fjord, whilst the Northern Lights dance across the sky is an experience which cannot be articulated – it must be experienced.
What are three things you must always take with you when you travel?
iPhone, hairdryer, credit card
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.
George Clooney and he could take me to his house in Lake Como, Italian food and wine and George: couldn’t think of a better combination!
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J