Meet an exec who gave up banking for travel and hasn’t regretted it for a minute.
Where were you born? In Stirling, Scotland. I lived there until I was 4 when my family moved to Burnley, Lancashire; and we moved to Canada when I was 10. Believe me, my accent was gone within a year.
How long have you been in the business? Eleven years – before that I worked at TD for 18 years in various roles, lastly as a branch manager. But banking was getting to be a bit monotonous so I took a leap of faith to work with Signature Vacations in Customer Relations and then, after the merger with Sunwing, I took on the BDM role in SW Ontario. I’ve been in this role 5 or 6 years.
How many people work for you? I have four BDMs and four inside sales reps.
What’s the best part of the job? That every single day is different. It keeps you on your toes!
What did you want to be as a kid? A doctor. I thought I would be good at it until l realized how many years of schooling it would take.
What was your first ever job? At Miracle Food Mart. Grade 10 through college, as a stock clerk. It was so much fun and, believe it or not, I made a pile of money.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? One of those bungee jump things at the CNE. Never again. Never.
Any guilty pleasures? Anything to do with chocolate. I’m a huge chocolate fanatic. I eat it every day and I never share. (laughs).
What’s your favourite airline? SAA. My dad lives in South Africa and I’ve been there three times and I love their service on those long flights.
Favourite hotel chain? The Royaltons, I really do like them. They have a lot of really good features.
What’s on your tablet? Not a lot. I like to keep my phone to the basics, Facebook, Instagram. The only weird thing I have is a flight tracker.
What do people not know about you? I have a couple of really bad fears. Absolutely terrified of snakes of any size. And glass floors.
Any hobbies or interests? I’m a big downhill skier – I used to be an instructor. And travel is a big thing. I’m trying to get to as many countries as I can. I just got back from Brazil.
When were you happiest? It was very recently. My 25-year-old daughter Jessica has graduated from McMaster and is now working with the Sunwing group! And 22-year-old Michael is in his 4th year at McMaster and has just signed on with KPMG. It’s so good to see both of them get going.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self? “Save more money.”
Who do you most admire in the industry? Stephen Hunter, for lots of reasons. For his vision on both hotel and air sides of the business. He’s made some fantastic decisions.
What skill or talent do you admire in someone? The ability to listen well. I think successful people are good listeners.
What’s at the top of your bucket list? Egypt has been on the top of my list for a long time. Number 2 used to be Rio!
What keeps you awake at night? Nothing. I sleep well.
What is your greatest extravagance? I have a bit of a watch problem. How many? About 100. But I only really like about 30 of them.
How do you stay fit when you travel? I don’t! I’ve tried to bring my gym stuff, but it doesn’t work. Swimming, I guess.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Airlines that allow people to bring on huge carry-on bags.
If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Elton John. I’m a big fan.
Do you have a favourite charity? Anything to do with cancer.
What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? It’s getting better, but trying to teach the public that if they go to the D.R. they won’t die.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? I hope to be still working. I enjoy what I’m doing and love this industry!