Career in focus: Justine Lally
General Manager Marketing, APT Travel Group
1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
As General Manager Marketing, I lead a fantastic team in all aspects of modern day marketing. We are responsible for ensuring the APT Travel Group’s brands retain their market-leading presence, through brand strategy, marketing mix plans, campaign development, all brand aesthetics and communications, and of course lots of budget management, analysis and reporting. I’ve been overseeing the team for six years now — over this time we have grown two-fold, though we are still a tightly integrated team spanning every marketing touch point.
2. How did you start out in your career?
My first role out of uni was inside sales with P&O Resorts — and I couldn’t have asked for a better training ground to the travel industry than providing support (and learning from) three amazing sales managers, each looking after a different sector of the industry.
3. Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?
My first passion was advertising (I was the annoying child who talked all the way through the TV program and would then be fixated on watching the ads). Falling in love with travel after an around the world trip prior to uni, I discovered I could combine marketing with the joys of travel and there was no turning back.
4. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?
My one piece of advice is never stop learning. You could be inspired and learn something new from a customer, a colleague or a mentor — always be open to listening and learning from everyone whether it be in a formal setting or not. In saying that, I do think formal study and qualifications is the perfect complement to on the ground training. Particularly in a discipline like marketing, the principles and marketing tools learnt through my formal qualifications (an undergrad degree in Business and more recently a Masters of Marketing), provide the foundation for much of my day-to-day or strategic planning and decision-making.
5. What do you love about your job?
What’s not to love; the people in our industry are second to none, our customers are amazing and trust us with delivering unforgettable experiences, and I really love and thrive on the competitive nature of our sector.
6. What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
My biggest challenge was really more self-awareness and acknowledging that while I had the technical knowledge and skill-set to go where I wanted, professional success would also come from personal development, building my emotional intelligence and adapting my personal communication style where needed.
7. What factors were central to your success?
Hard work — really looking for ways and opportunities to deliver above and beyond what my boss or colleagues were expecting (and to achieve that required focus and hard work). I also haven’t been shy about sharing where I wanted my career to go with senior management over the years. When opportunities did came up, and the self-doubt crept in and I didn’t step up to apply, it was the push and support from these same managers who ensured I didn’t let such an opportunity slip by.
8. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?
Not formally — though I’ve always made sure I’ve been surrounded by smart, inspiring leaders who have been willing to share their knowledge and experience. I also come from a role-reversal family where my mum was an 80’s ‘Girl Boss’ at EY and dad was stay-at-home carer. The premise around ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is true for us all — and I was lucky to have such a role model in my every day. Mum is still my go to and mentor when struggling with a challenge or situation.
10. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Know that your career path may not be as straight and linear as you envision — the side steps and experience from such diversions can be just as beneficial. Also don’t forget you can ‘choose your boss’ … we spend a lot of time in the office, so if you see someone who you’d love to learn from and work with every day with — find out how to get into their team or into their organisation.