Say G’day to the heroes of the Travel Industry in our new interview series. These are the much-loved people that continue to inspire others by going above and beyond in their everyday roles in travel.
Meet Anita Russell, General Manager of The Flight Centre Foundation.
Beginning her career in finance outside of travel, Anita soon saw the light and started at Flight Centre in 2003, working across finance and then PeopleWorks where she became a Team Leader, helping to nurture people potential in South Africa, Canada and Australia.
For the last six years, Anita has headed up the Flight Centre Foundation in their Head Office in Brisbane, overseeing a variety of goodwill projects and growing the foundation to help enable brighter futures for the disenfranchised, everywhere.
One of her most recent achievements was setting a new world record! 500 Flighties from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin came together to set a WORLD RECORD for the most food relief hampers packed in a single day.
Say G’day to Anita.
What do you do in your role, Anita?
Harnessing the collective goodness of Flight Centre Travel Group‘s people to give back to our community.
Whether it’s fundraising, volunteering or advocating for our charity partners, responding to emergencies or helping our own people, I’m the lucky one who gets to mobilise the FCTG troops with the support of our volunteer Foundation Champions across the country.
What do you love most about working in the travel industry?
Working with an entire industry of people who just ‘get’ the magic of travel.
Experiencing a new place – the sights, sounds, smells, language, traditions… And the people!
It’s a privilege working with like-minded people who similarly embrace the world.
They inspire me to keep travelling and learning.
How has working in travel changed you?
Working in travel has helped me grow on so many levels – not just travel, but the opportunity for personal growth and development.
Where else could you experience working in another country? (South Africa, Canada), be given the skills to conquer your greatest fear? (public speaking to 3500 at our Global Gathering) and the chance to pursue your dream job? (contributing to the community).
Tell us about a recent, amazing travel experience
Walking the Kokoda Track with our charity partners KTF.
PNG is untouched and breathtakingly beautiful and the people are so warm, gentle and generous, even with seemingly so little (KTF are helping on that front).
And my trek buddies were travel industry legends Bill James and Mick Carroll (Top Deck founders) – Oh the stories!
What’s the weirdest/most amusing job you’ve ever had?
My current one: The things I have done to raise a buck for the Foundation and our charity partners.
Think running through Brisbane CBD with 25 other Flighties in budgie ‘smugglettes’ fundraising for Youngcare.
Totally embarrassing but a load of fun for a great cause.
What’s the most eye-opening/funniest thing you’ve ever seen on your travels?
On a tiny, pancake-flat island off the coast of Venezuela, we saw a hanglider.
Even stranger: Turned out to be a 70’s model Aussie Valiant towing a trailer with a dodgy winch spooling line up to the glider to create lift.
When high enough, a ratty bit of string broke, releasing the glider to soar. Of course, we had to have a go!
How can we as an industry ‘travel to change the world?’
We are in a powerful position to educate ourselves and our customers on how simple decisions can make a profound impact in a destination.
Support local businesses, reduce waste, conserve water, care about wildlife and above all respect local people and culture.
Magnify individual decisions across the whole industry and the world is winning.
What’s your number one in-flight travel tip?
Flight socks… Not at all sexy but a must to prevent the dreaded DVT (trust me!)
What’s your favourite travel app?
Uber has revolutionised my travel world.
Book on your ever-present phone, the driver turns up exactly where you are, takes you where you want to go and no worries about payment!
No wrong addresses due to dire language skills or scrabbling for local currency.
Chats with your Uber driver give you a glimpse of their daily life.
What advice would you give an industry newbie?
Travel is not a job, it’s your life.
Embrace every opportunity you can to develop your craft, even when the thought of mastering the entire world is a little overwhelming.
It’s worth it.
Have you met the lovely Anita Russell on your travels? Want to get involved too? Drop us a line here and let’s introduce you to the wider world of travel.
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