Career in focus

SUSAN Haberle, Head of Sales, Australasia, APT Travel Group

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

As Head of Sales, Australasia for the APT Travel Group (ATG), I head up the onroad, inside sales and group sales teams. We represent the brands of APT, Travelmarvel and Botanica. My role is responsible for all trade distribution and partnerships in the Australian and New Zealand markets for these ATG brands. I have been with ATG for over 11 years initially as National Sales Manager and now as Head of Sales.

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

I commenced my career in travel at the age of 23 in travel when I found myself in London after a 12 month backpacking holiday with very little money left. The money had expired but the passion to want to continue my exploration of the world had just started! It was this passion to keep exploring the world that drew me to the travel industry. I applied and luckily got a sales role with Contiki Holidays in London, and after a year based in London I trained to be a Tour Manager in Europe where I spent the next five years taking over 70 tours through Europe, Russia, Scandinavia and Egypt.

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

I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in History, Drama and Politics. Although the degree was quite general — it did give me a good grounding in written and verbal communication — which I used every day in my roles over the years. Little did I know then but the subjects I studied certainly assisted with life on the road and subsequent roles after — especially the drama degree!

4. What do you love about your job?

I love that no two days are the same in my role. When I commenced with ATG over 11 years ago the product range was half the size it is today, as was the sales team. The expansion of product and team over the years has been a fantastic journey to be a part of. Offering diverse touring and cruising styles now in every corner of the world across our brands has kept me stimulated and excited.

6. What factors were central to your success?

When I look back, my career has really been in three chapters — Contiki, Sunlover Holidays and ATG. The common thread with all these roles and companies that has been pivotal to my success has been the people. I have been so fortunate to work with enthusiastic and dedicated team members all who showed ‘can do’ attitudes. To learn and grow in my career I had to look no further than those around me — I find the best lessons are the ones I have learned from fellow team members.

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

I don’t have just one mentor — I have had a number of people over the years who I have looked up to and who I have learnt so much from. Personally I can look no further than my amazing mum — who all my life has been such an inspiration to me and continues to be.

8. What are the keys to good business?

I truly believe that the key to a good business is the culture of the company, and a great culture attracts like minded people. When culture aligns with the values of it’s team members — that’s when the magic happens. Clear direction, strong leadership and a diverse, inclusive, respective culture — this is when a business can go from good to great.

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

I think to be successful in our industry you have to be passionate about what you do — whatever the role it is. Find what makes you happy and pursue it. You also have to be committed to working hard, have a desire to continual learning (and a knowledge you will never know everything so learn everyday) and most importantly don’t take yourself too seriously. We are a part of an industry that creates life enriching experiences for our client’s day in day out. Even on the most stressful day don’t forget that.

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