Joe Karbo, Chief operating officer of Wendy Wu Tours Group
1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?
As Group CEO, a core responsibility is leading the company’s global operations within all the regional offices in Sydney, Auckland, New York, Xian and head office in London where I’m based. Supporting & working closely with all the regional leaders and global directors ensuring we’re all aligned to the company’s vision and goals.
I began this newly created role in June 2016, reporting directly to Wendy Wu (founder & chairperson) and the board of directors.
2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?
My first job was with Zurich Insurance as an underwriting executive, and first job in travel with was with Flight Centre In Sydney (Darlinghurst) as travel consultant in a retail shop. I probably was destined to work in the travel industry — because it’s what I do now.
3. Did you complete formal qualifications and how have they helped you in your career?
Yes I’m a huge fan of education and personal development. My highest qualification is a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) which was challenging to complete whilst working full-time, but extremely rewarding and important for my day to day life.
4. What do you love about your job?
It’s a bit of a clich, but I love the company, and working with my colleagues first and foremost. Being surrounded with dedicated people all striving for the same goals, is enough for me to feel energised getting up each day. I’ve always found who your direct report line is within the business, is a key factor as well, and working closely with Wendy is always a joy. How Wendy started the business and where it’s at today is a testimony of her hard work and resilience over the years.
5. What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve had in your career?
Major ones would be Bali bombings and the GFC. Generic ones would be internal politics and breaking down the barriers of limitations that some people try to enforce upon others.
6. What factors are central to a successful career?
Go the extra mile, be positive, inner strength, work hard, care about your team members, be creative & analytical, do what you say and walk the talk.
7. Is having a mentor an essential part of getting ahead in a career?
Yes definitely. They’re usually brutally honest with their assessments, which is important as we can all live in our personal bubbles sometimes. The ability to write things down and review one’s progress I have also found to be effective. It helps to be honest in your responses, take criticism when it’s delivered, be aware and move on.
8. What are your principals for doing good business?
Excellent communication, transparency (sharing information & knowledge) passionate staff, influential leaders and a good understanding of reports & P&Ls. Building strong relationships with both internal & external stakeholders is a must.
9. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Be a stand-out by working hard, be consistent, always be positive, do an MBA and believe in your unique abilities. Think big.