Career in focus: Ana Pedersen
Ana Pedersen, Global Director of Corporate Sales QBT & APX, QBT
1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
My role covers several functions across Australia and New Zealand. I’m responsible for overseeing new customer acquisitions, marketing and the strategic approach to supplier relationships. I joined QBT in July 2017 upon returning to Australia after spending 15 years with a global travel management company.
2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?
There was never any doubt and from a very young age I was destined to work in travel. After completing some work experience at a local travel agency during high school, I knew the travel industry was where I wanted to develop my career. After high school I went on a gap year to Brazil (my mother’s home country) and I got my first job as a general sales agent for USAir and Aeromexico for a large travel company. It was my first travel job and it was the fact that I was bilingual and fluent in both English and Portuguese that got me the job. I loved every minute of it and learned so much in that first year. A year later I returned to Australia and got a job at Qantas as a reservations agent and never looked back again.
3. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?
I’m a huge advocate of formal qualifications as it demonstrates an individual’s commitment to development and progress. I believe strongly in being accountable for creating your own path forward and studying hard and applying yourself is important and shows strong characteristics that I admire in others. I gained travel industry qualifications by completing IATA Ticketing I & II, then later completed a postgraduate certificate in management at Macquarie University and I’ll be completing my MBA this December from AGSM at the UNSW.
4. What do you love about your job?
In the past I fell in love with the thrill of every sales win. I’m a sales person through and through and I love building strong, authentic relationships. While that feeling you get after a win will never leave me, today I’m much more focused on what I can give back to my team, the industry and those around me as a leader and mentor, and how I can support them in their own plans to develop, grow and meet their own personal objectives.
5. What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I’ve encountered several challenges but none that I felt I couldn’t overcome. It’s how you treat your challenges that’s important. I always knew I wanted to lead a global sales team out of the largest corporate travel market in the world, the US, and that to me became my greatest career challenge. I tackled this goal one step at a time, planning my next step in my career, working hard in delivering positive results. I also put myself out of my comfort zone many times. By approaching this challenge or, as I’d rather call it, this opportunity, on a step-by-step basis, I was able to fulfil this goal I’d set out for myself.
6. What factors were central to your success?
Without a doubt, the most important factor has been the unwavering support of my husband and my family in pursuing my goals. Having their support but also having them as a sounding board, brings you back to reality in terms of what matters most in life and career. Getting out of my comfort zone has also been imperative, as has advocating for myself at every opportunity.
7. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?
I’ve had several key mentors throughout my career and I continue to have them in my life. Two of them are former leaders of mine, whom I respected and learnt so much from. A third mentor is someone outside the industry who has mentored me for the past eight years and continues to be an instrumental listener and supporter.
8. What are the keys to good business?
In my humble opinion, good business needs to be about creating value across all its stakeholder communities, in a sustainable manner. We need to deliver good business results whilst also leaving a planet worthy for future generations. Our employees and their well-being needs to be a key focus because by earning their commitment and having them truly engaged in our business is what will deliver excellent customer service, will inspire them to drive continuous improvement and will result in strong business performance.