This week we get to know a bit more about Karryon Founder and Editor in Chief, Matt Leedham.

 

 

1. How long have you been in the industry?

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16 years in Australia with almost a year in New Zealand. Previously my background was always working in Creative agencies in the UK. After six months travelling through Asia, I came to Australia in 1999 with pretty much just a backpack and a one-year visa and landed a job at Flight Centre in Brisbane HQ working in their in-house creative department ‘Artworks’.

The industry and people in it was love at first sight and I’ve never looked back.

 

2. What’s your most amazing travel experience (one of them anyway)

Photo Source: Argentina Travel Blog

Photo Source: Argentina Travel Blog

Like most of us I’ve been extremely privileged to experience many amazing moments.

Highlights would be living in South America for a year whilst playing basketball for a team in Argentina, extensive scuba diving in Sulawesi, Indonesia and celebrating last Christmas and new year snowboarding in the French Alps with my family, including my mum – a boyhood dream.

 

3. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever done?

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I’ve done quite a few to be honest. Probably a toss up between working as a guide down a WWII Nazi War tunnel in Guernsey in the Channel Islands (slightly weird), to promoting a club night at ‘Es Paradis’ in Ibiza (very weird after about 2am) and a French champagne pourer for British royalty and assorted guests at The Cartier Polo Tournament at Windsor Castle outside London (another world! – and just weird all the time).

 

4. First ever country you travelled to? What was your experience like?

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Puerto Pollensa, Northern Majorca, Spain 1987. A relatively relaxed introduction to the joys of ‘España‘ with two friends, as opposed to diving head first into the customary British chaos of Magaluf in the south.

Pollensa is a sleepy, beautiful little harbour port in the Mediterranean with just the right mix of Euros, Brits and locals to make for a great vibe. However, 5kms down the road is a place called Alcudia – the Ibiza equivalent.

Not surprisingly I still hardly slept, burnt myself to a crisp, arrived and departed hating Malibu whilst loving Sangria and giddily returned the next year for more.

 

5. Wishlist of places yet to visit?

We have a big map on the wall in our office and when I look at it I always realise just how little I have actually travelled. It is a very big map though.

For starters, I’m really excited to be going to Hawaii and Vietnam this year. Beyond there, I think its Capetown, Croatia, Alaska, The South Pole, Mexico, The Galapagos, driving through the US, The Northern Lights… ok I’ll stop now.

 

6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?

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Growing up it was my mum and my Grandad. Both of them had the steely Yorkshire grit to push on and make things happen without a fuss. My mum is still a shepherdess up in the remote and bleak Yorkshire Dales and amazingly still runs marathons.

For her 60th birthday we hiked the Annapurna circuit in Nepal together for 10 days with her carrying her own pack the whole way. She continues to show me that you really can do anything if you put your mind to it, whilst always remarking that ‘There’s nowt funnier than folk’ which always makes me laugh.

Professionally, I’d say Keith Stanley (my former boss at Flight Centre and Stella Travel Services) and Peter Lacaze (my former boss at JTG). Both taught me a huge amount about the business of travel and people and were very generous in their mentoring time with me.

 

7.  How has working in travel changed you?

It’d be fair to say it’s completely transformed my life in so many ways. In all that I’ve learnt about the world to the constant influx of incredible people I’ve met and continue to meet every day, frequently through unforgettable shared experiences.

I think it’s given me more confidence and optimism about life, whilst keeping me honest at the same time. I think we’d all agree that travel has the power to make the world a better place for everyone for numerous reasons.

So our collective mission as a global industry surely must be to get more people travelling, more often.

 

8. What’s your biggest life achievement to date?

Becoming a father to my sons Milo and Sol, playing National League Basketball in the UK and Argentina and jumping off the ledge to start the Leedham Group, including KarryOn.

 

9. What’s one in-flight travel tip?

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If you’re next sector is a long one, try going for a long run, cycle or walk in the day before you get on the plane. Sounds obvious, but given you won’t be needing your legs for a while it’ll help you relax and possibly even get some decent sleep thanks to exhaustion.

Which is especially useful for extremely tall people like me when often uncomfortably crammed in at the back of the plane (sympathy note to all airline friends – can I have an upgrade please?). Plus, you’ll feel well deserved in treating yourself to eating and drinking everything else on offer during the flight.

 

10. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the travel industry?

Grasp it firmly with two hands and get stuck into whatever opportunities come your way. Put your hand up for things out of absolute hunger, rather than because you think you ‘should’ and always remember that doing what you love and are passionate about will lead to a happy life.

Be liked – our industry will always be about people and is a big revolving door so nurture relationships, network like crazy but with integrity and offer a listening ear rather than a fast mouth! Work hard and strive to make yourself the first pick on any team, but above all – just enjoy the ride and don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s not worth it.

 


 

The Travel Industry Mentor Experience is a not-for-profit company established in 2009 to offer a range of business skills, development guidance and support sessions, within a mentoring and peer collaboration environment, to aspiring mid level management individuals of the travel and tourism industry.

The TIME program is focused on a Mentor/Mentee relationship that is ‘mentee-driven’. Mentors are drawn from the senior ranks of the industry and have generously volunteered their time and energy to the mentor process. They are matched to Mentees on the basis of non-conflicting business skills and experience that enables them to offer advice and perspective to the Mentee. The role of the Mentor is to hold their Mentee accountable and to offer challenging ideas that will inspire the Mentee, helping to building the individuals self confidence through praise, encouragement and constructive feedback.

If you are interested in joining TIME as a mentor or mentee visit their website.

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