Freedom Road Travel Group is proud to have 70% of senior positions held by females and is excited to announce the appointment of Kiki Cheng as General Manager for one of the group brands, Freedom Road Destinations. Kiki has been working for FRD since May 2017 and was recently appointed General Manager in February 2019.
In honour of International Women’s Day that was celebrated in March, we asked Senior Team Members around our offices to answer a few questions about their roles and what leadership means to them.
Kiki Cheng – General Manager, Freedom Road Destinations
- When you joined the company: May 2017
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: I’m passionate about working closely with my team on growing the business, training my team, and giving direction of personal and professional development.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: Without being physically there to support my team due to the different locations, I’ve found regular conference calls and one on one discussions extremely important.
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: Understand that you need transparent communication. Women are usually observant and this will help us to identify the problem right away. Never be judgmental and never avoid conflicts but address issues in a delicate but transparent manner.
Lilly McVea – Head of Marketing
- When you joined the company: 2018
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: Learning and development is my number #1 passion point as a leader, you can’t EVER go wrong with investing time and money into your team.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: Age has always been a tricky one for me. When I first took up a management role at 20, I was told that it’s unlikely I’ll be successful because I don’t have life experience. Furthermore, as I had aspirations to become a marketing leader, I was told with certainty that once you’re over 30, it’s much easier to get a leading role. This all propelled me forward harder and faster than if I went the ‘normal’ career path route, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Once I learned I was my harshest critic and that it’s about your dedication and initiative, not your age, I felt comfortable hitting these perceptions, conversations and stereotypes head-on. However, if you’re also in the right place, with a supportive team – age isn’t a barrier – on either end of the scale!
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: My advice to men and women is the same – show your initiative and make sure you’re working at your highest standard. Things won’t be handed to you on a plate, but it’s admirable to watch people rise up, be hungry for knowledge and create opportunities instead of waiting for them. If you’re hungry, have guts and prepared to get your hands incredibly dirty – you’ll go far. Create your own journey.
Maite Newell – Chief Experience Officer
- When you joined the company: When Websalad was acquired in 2016.
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member:
- Empowering the team to do better and to be better people within themselves and to others.
- Execution; everyone can come up with ideas but what you do it with it is what makes the difference.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: Fear can stop you from moving forward. As I learnt, risk is about the learnings and experiences you gain so embrace it.
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: Be kind to everyone. Treat everyone with kindness and respect irrespective of titles. You can also have a work life balance. There are so many opportunities today with technology advances to be able to work and do what you want to do and be a mother at the same time. Do what you want to do. If you don’t try, you will never know.
Lisa Blondeau – Client Relationship Manager
- When you joined the company: I started my career in travel in 1982 before opening my own business, Travel About, alongside my sister nine years later. Travel About allowed me to see the world through a different lens and brought me to the team of Freedom Road Travel after they purchased Travel About in 2016.
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: Throughout my career, attention to detail and the ability to establish and develop relationships within the industry and beyond has always been fundamental. I’m a people person so working with people to experience the wonders of the world has and will always be my passion.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: In 2016, after 25 years of trading, leaving my business into the capable hands of David Sumich was the most challenging. But, with challenges comes success. Working alongside David has made it an enjoyable process and one that I am forever grateful for!
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: There is no such thing as luck, you have to work for it.
Jordan McNamara – Head of Human Resources
- When you joined the company: July 2018
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: Understanding what engages, motivates and matters to people, as they are the core of any business. I love helping workplaces and its leaders understand and bring to life what matters to people, and have seen just how positive this can be for a business’s success.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: Balancing my career with being a mum to 2 kids (soon to be 3). I’ve worked in very demanding roles for Global companies, and often was required to attend meetings or conference calls after hours due to the different time zones. The nature of my role also means that at a times I may have to deal with a complex matter that I can’t simply drop and leave work and would have to stay back to resolve. I was very open with my employer about my family life and asked for a flexible work schedule which included reduced days and working from home on some occasions, which enabled me to better meet demands of work and home life.
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: Always treat you’re people the same way you would want to be treated as one day that person could be leading you, sitting beside you at the round table or above you, or even advocating for you at another company for a new leading role. Also, speak up and ask for things. I have often seen women not as confident or as willing to speak up and ask for things like more money for a leading role, or a flexible work schedule, and you’d be pleasantly surprised by the outcome if you do.
Rebecca Bell – Client Service Manager
- When you joined the company: 2017
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: Creating the best customer experience and training and empowering my team to also give their best at all times.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: One of the biggest challenges I feel is that as women we do not support each other enough within business. We all work so hard individually to progress our careers, and we want to do it on our own! However, women are so powerful when we help, encourage and support one another. When you work in a company that encourages this it is truly a lovely place to work.
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: My advice is always stay true to your own values and follow your own path. People will always want you to fit in a box and be a certain way; you cannot succeed for yourself doing it someone else’s way.
Livia Xia – Head of Commercial Finance
- When you joined the company: December 2016
- What you’re dedicated and passionate about as a senior team member: I am passionate about continuous learning and am dedicated to share knowledge and expertise.
- Your largest challenge rising into a leadership or senior role and how you conquered it: As we all start our careers in particular areas to become so called “subject experts”, we sometimes are too focused on one area. What might be right for person, team or department may not be right for the company. It’s best to look at things more from helicopter view. Balance is also a key. I feel it is so important that we listen to advice and other voices, but filter and focus on solutions.
- Advice to women who want to take up leading roles: Focus on solution, think broadly and creatively, work with your team and listen.
About Freedom Road Travel
Freedom Road Travel is a retail & online travel service in Australia, focused on curating quality, bespoke and luxury travel for individuals, groups and corporate loyalty partner programs. With access to over 400 airlines, 42 car rental brands, 38 global rail providers, 17 cruise companies, 30+ escorted touring companies and 220,000 hotels in our inventory, Freedom Road Travel are a leading luxury travel brand.