Career in focus: Collette King

Collette King, Commercial Manager, Australia, Travelport

1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?

It’s been 15 months since I started this role, in which I’m responsible for overseeing Travelport’s Account Management team across Australia. I spend lots of time with each of the team members, motivating them to demonstrate and practise strategic and analytical thinking. We believe that these traits play an important role in influencing client growth and performance, whilst maintaining long term partnerships.

2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?

I’ve always had an appetite to start a career in the travel industry and leaned towards the corporate portfolios quite quickly. I started in the industry 22 years ago as a corporate domestic consultant, progressing to a corporate international consultant managing premium client portfolios. Over the years, I took up Account Management and Business Development positions, expanding into the Information Technology vertical of the travel industry. Technology was always a space that intrigued me, so it felt very much like a natural progression in my career.

3. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?

I do have a certificate in travel and tourism. Upon completion of my higher school qualifications & TT certification, I also took on ‘work experience’ at a corporate travel management company where I eventually secured a permanent position. While it’s important to obtain and work towards applicable qualifications, I’m a firm believer that the best way to gain knowledge is to get your hands dirty and start working in your preferred industry as soon as you can. Hands-on experience, in my opinion, is priceless and provides a true outlook on the expectations for those considering career opportunities.

4. What do you love about your job?

I have a real passion for coaching and nurturing a team. To me, it’s a great privilege to work closely with my team member or with a client to strategise ways to overcome obstacles and give appropriate advice. I also feel intellectually stimulated to be working on strategies and tactics based on the company’s overall business objectives.

5. What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career?

For me, that would be the time when I had to return to work after the birth of my daughter. It was a huge re-adjustment, especially coming back to the hard and fast corporate world. It was vital for me to align myself with organisations that support mothers returning to the workforce and having the flexibility to ensure that their employees have a healthy and happy life balance.

6. What factors were central to your success?

It’s useful to have a succession career plan for myself. To know where I want to be in the next 3, 5 or 10 years keeps me motivated. I regularly check in on myself to make sure that I am on track. Success, to me, is recognising the path that I have come from and taking any learnings for the future. Of course, I couldn’t have done any of this without my very supportive family and network of close friends.

7. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?

I have been very fortunate to have a mentor for the last 18 years in my career. She was my Director when I was an account manager at a global travel management company. She has remained a very influential person through my many career changes and has played a key role in my career progression.

8. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Chart your own career plan. Always take the opportunity to network and develop relationships in your preferred industry. Never close the door on any opportunities because you never know where it might lead you. And my biggest advice is to always ‘back yourself’.