Career in focus: Damian Perry
Damian Perry, Managing director APAC region Hurtigruten
1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
I have been with Hurtigruten as managing director APAC region for less than one year but in the industry for over 20.
My role is part of the global commercial management team and we are responsible for leading a group of regional sales and marketing managers across Asia Pacific. The team is based in Hong Kong, in addition to me in Melbourne and another team member in Tokyo.
Together we develop and execute the APAC business strategies, sales and marketing strategies and partnerships strategies across the APAC region for Hurtigruten.
2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?
I paid my way through university as a rafting guide and realised that making travellers’ holidays fantastic was a truly rewarding role. I spent a fair amount of time with Intrepid in various roles, which gave me the opportunity to work offshore and to move into a joint venture with Flight Centre, a great grounding and broad industry experience. I led the sales strategies of a DMC and was CEO of a wholesaler but on reflection I believe the experience rich, purpose driven “adventure” sector of the market is the place for me.
3. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?
I studied business with a masters in marketing and tourism. The formal qualifications gave me the backing to enter in my chosen sector of the industry. Post study I started with everyone else in sales and worked around the business, learning on the job. Further internal training really came throughout my career as employers offered leadership training, coaching and mentoring.
I believe if you have the opportunity for formal qualifications then you should take it. Make an investment in yourself.
4. What do you love about your job?
The travel industry is one of the few places that can genuinely allow you to personally develop by travelling the world.
I love working for great brands, like Hurtigruten, who have an incredible 125 year history and are pioneers, explorers and innovators.
I love having a talented, skilled, self-motivated and engaged team.
And finally; I am grateful to have the privilege to work across multiple source markets. No day is the same which satisfies my interest in business and of course my passion to travel. China is polar opposite to Australia and other markets sit somewhere in between. The complexity of these markets and partnerships deliver daily lessons and challenges.
5. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?
Yes, many formally and informally. I participated in The Executive Connection (TEC) in a more formal mentoring structure and informally I have been surrounded by many successful Industry leaders. I believe having a number of mentors over time to lean on is greater than the opinion of only one.
6. What are the keys to good business?
Purpose, direction and vision! Remain nimble while being consistent with your own purpose and value that you bring. Partnerships are also vital, and transparency and honesty is key at a time when trust in businesses is lower that it has been for a long time.
I believe a good business today will look after and invest in people for their personal and professional development.
7. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Be flexible and take the time to connect and reach out to partners. Get out of your comfort zone and be willing to work offshore in new markets if the opportunity arises. You give so much of your time to an organisation so make sure it is a fit for you and for them. Build your knowledge with training. Embrace the good people and have fun while travelling as much as you can.