Career in focus: Wendy Wu
Wendy Wu, Founder of Wendy Wu Tours
1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
My role now is focused on sharing the vision and aligning the teams. I have been in the current position of WWT Chair Person only for seven months since June 2016, when we found and appointed Joe Karbo, the perfect person to take on the role of Wendy Wu Tours Group CEO.
2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?
I started as a reservation consultant at Century Plaza Travel in Epping. Barry Alsop was my boss and mentor at the time and he taught me how to treat colleagues, customers and suppliers, which set me up for a great career. Travel is a wonderful and happy industry. I love it, but it is only by accident that I got into travel. The principles of business can be applied in any industry, and I was brought up to love what I do and no matter what I do, so I am glad it is in travel, but I could easily be doing something else.
3. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?
Yes, I think formal qualification is very beneficial as it trains you to learn from theory, which is a more abstract form of learning than from real life, which means that you can learn things without really experiencing it. I graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney with Bachelor of Arts degree, and I had a Bachelor of Science degree from a Chinese university.
4. What do you love about your job?
I love my job and I am in love with my job. I am one of those lucky people who gets up in the morning and can’t wait for an exciting day at work. The best part of my job is the great people I work with, and the vision, clarity and dedication we share. We drive each other to excel, and we all know that we are doing something quite extraordinary. I have a family with two eight-year-old twin boys, and I love them equally. I often tell them that I love them the most in the world, but I love work just as much. In school holidays they can’t ask me to stay home, they know that I can come home when I finish. It’s taught them that we all have our responsibilities. I think my work habit is good for them.
5. What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
SARS in 2003 was very challenging time, when China was wiped off the tourism map and 95% of what we sold at the time was China. The tough experiences and business conditions at the time helped us to become much stronger as a team. We thrived because of it. Another great challenge is complacency. Continued growth and sometimes great growth can bring great challenges if we are not careful. Wendy Wu Tours has had its fair share of this. I am glad that we manage to wake up on time and start running again, and at even faster speed.
6. What factors were central to your success?
I am not sure if I could use the word success, as there is still a long way to go to where we want to be. The people within the business — we select the best people, and we grow together; the partners — we often work with the best, and win together; the industry/market in general — the OZ, UK and NZ industry and market are generally very encouraging and supportive. Another major factor may be the desire to belong to something extraordinary and desire to learn more, to always do better.
7. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?
Yes, I have many mentors. I have some fantastic people at work, they inspire me in different ways and they are my mentors for those different aspects. I also have mentors outside of business. I got to know them through my friends and colleagues.
8. What are the keys to good business?
Good people, good products and good profits.
8. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard, care less about how much you get paid, care more about what you are going to learn. Once you have the skill the world is yours. Work hard, even if it sometimes feels unfair, do not look at others who work less. You will always get what you put in in the long run and the habit of working hard itself and the abilities you will gain, will set you up for a great life. Build a likeable and supportive personality; it will make the journey smoother and more fun for you and others.