Stephen Wood, the GM at The National Convention Centre in Canberra talks family as his biggest achievement and his passion for food.
1. How long have you been in the industry?
Since starting University in 1990, I worked in bars, restaurants and hotels in casual roles.
My first main stay job was as a bar manager in southern Italy with a tour operator called Mark Warner.
I worked seven seasons with them, finishing up as Resort Manager, still in Italy, where I started with the company.
2. What is your most amazing travel experience?
Walking along the Great Wall of China in the mid 90s with a mate and no-one else around.
We were a little unsure where we were exactly and I needed to be back in the city to catch a train to Hong Kong.
We had pretty much given up hope of getting back in time but we had walked too far to turn back to where we joined the Wall so kept going.
Out of the blue we stumbled on a broken section of the Wall which lead down to a small train station, a train soon arrived and we made it back to town in time for my train.
To walk for several hours feeling like we had the Great Wall of China to ourselves is an experience I imagine is no longer possible.
3. What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
In London in between seasons I drove a small advertising van for a ski company whose campaign that year involved chickens which dominated the sides of my van.
As a backpacker at the time it was great to have a vehicle but I am not sure how much it added to my “street cred” driving around London in a chicken van.
4. First ever country you travelled to?
Technically Australia as my family emigrated when I was two and it has proved to be a good move as we are all still here and love it.
Otherwise back to the UK to visit family and I had my first white Christmas, which involved making huge snowmen and riding sleds across frozen ponds out the back of my uncle’s orchard.
5. Wishlist of places yet to visit?
Many and varied but the top few would be – skiing in Japan; trekking and seeing the Big 4 in Africa.
I’d also like to see the Soccer World Cup where ever it is when I finally get there.
And where ever they serve the best food and wine in the world – but that is probably here.
6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?
My parents – most of my beliefs and who I am is a result of their influence on me growing up.
They taught me a sense of fairness and an attitude of do unto others as you would have them do to you.
They instilled in me a passion for travel, for food and eventually for wine.
7. How has working in travel changed you?
Both working in travel and actually travelling has opened my eyes to a wider perspective on life, a more global perspective.
It allowed me to appreciate and enjoy diversity whether that is in people or in experience.
As a people focused industry it has also shaped me as a leader where I strongly believe the most important part are the people.
8. What’s your biggest life achievement to date?
Having a wonderful family.
9. What is your top in-flight travel tip?
Enjoy the time to slow down and not be distracted as we are with our busy lives, actually read the whole newspaper or enjoy a movie – but most importantly allow a bit of time for yourself.
10. What advice would you give someone starting in the industry?
Enjoy it – there are so many opportunities as it is such a diverse industry.
You are far more likely to be successful if you can focus on what you enjoy and are good at.
Have a question for Stephen? Leave it below and we’ll get you the answer.
Getting to Know You is our good will gesture to promote the TIME program. 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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