16 Apr Annabel Ausmus’s Inspiring Story…
INSPIRING STORY BY JC INSPIRE
Annabel Ausmus – Global Chief Marketing Officer – Corporate Travel Management (CTM)
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO YOU ARE? AND WHAT YOU DO?
I’m Annabel Ausmus and I am the Global Chief Marketing Officer for Corporate Travel Management (CTM). I was born and raised in England, but have lived in Australia for the past 15 years and Brisbane is ‘home’. I’m also a very proud wife and the mother of two beautiful kids.
I joined CTM in 2010, as the company was about to embark on some major milestone initiatives; its first international acquisition (New Zealand), a major rebrand, an IPO and subsequent listing on the ASX. It was an amazing time to join the fast-growing business and it’s been an incredible journey ever since.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP, WHAT WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS? AND WHERE DID YOU GO TO STUDY?
I grew up on the south-east coast of England, near the White Cliffs of Dover. I was raised in a very loving, hard-working family in which I was always encouraged to question, learn, achieve and have fun. Sports and dance dominated my childhood, and with that came a great sense of community, comradery, healthy competition and a very social network! Educationally I was a fairly high-achiever and particularly interested in creative subjects – art, design, media. My early career aspirations centred around film production, writing or graphic design, and I eventually found myself studying a degree in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds. Leeds was more than four hours’ drive from my family home, which seemed practically ‘tropical’ to my curious mind!
Whilst writing and storytelling had always been of interest to me, I missed the physical and mental creativity of the arts and recognised early on that pure journalism wasn’t for me. Instead, I set my sights on a career in marketing as a means to fulfil my passion for both design and communication. I’ve never looked back.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO YOUR CAREER AT CTM?
Growing up, the proximity of the European continent (France was literally visible from our local beach) dominated my formative years. We did a lot of holidaying on the continent and I was always intrigued and entertained by the cultural variety on my doorstep. My holiday jobs and early career also centred around tourism – everything from customer relations to front line operations, travel consulting to travel writer. These roles gave me valuable exposure to travel suppliers, front and back office systems, product development and supplier relations, and, most importantly, working with colleagues and customers across different cultures and languages – tools which have benefitted me greatly in my current role.
After graduating from university, I bought myself a round-the-world ticket which triggered what soon became a long-term addiction to travel, both personal and professional. CTM was my first foray into the corporate side of the travel industry following stints at STA Travel, Travelbag and the Youth Hostels Association. I just can’t imagine a more inspiring, exciting and rewarding industry to immerse yourself in every day.
WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE AND DID YOU FEAR ANYTHING?
In the early stages of my career, being slow to initiate career changes and embrace new opportunities for fear of the unknown were probably my biggest mistakes. I think there’s a lot of young women in their 20s and early 30s who feel ‘grateful’ for their career progress instead of ‘entitled’. I’m sure there’s are a number of reasons for this, but I know it contributes to feelings of self-doubt which can really hinder your career growth. I’ve been extremely lucky to have had great support at home and from mentors at work who have made me realise and act on opportunities more pro-actively and with greater confidence in recent years, which in turn has opened fantastic doors of opportunity.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST WIN SO FAR?
I’ve experienced so many great milestones throughout my career, from company rebrands and launching innovative new technologies to market, to award wins and speaking opportunities, but taking on the Global CMO role at CTM is probably the biggest win for me. It presented a much needed new challenge for me following a number of years leading CTM’s Australia & New Zealand marketing team. I am so passionate about this company and am thrilled to be able to directly influence our brand’s global growth story. I get to work with and learn from so many incredibly talented people both locally and around the world, and every day gain a greater understanding of our global markets, their cultural nuances and unique market opportunities, and our business’s growth strategy. It’s enormously fulfilling.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES CAME EASY AND WHAT ONES DID YOU HAVE TO PUSH FOR?
In my experience, the key to getting opportunities across the line always comes down to alignment – understanding your audience’s motivation or pain point, developing and articulating a relevant solution, demonstrating an ROI. Whether that’s a personal opportunity such as buying a house, or professional opportunity such as applying for a new job, seeking budget approvals or pitching a new campaign idea – when you can solve someone else’s problem I find the opportunities come quite naturally.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST HURDLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME IN YOUR CAREER OR LIFE SO FAR? AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
Transitioning into motherhood during a stage of professional growth has been significant – physically, emotionally and mentally challenging – and wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support of my husband, family and the management team at CTM.
I am completely in awe every day at how different my children’s personalities are – just when you think you’ve honed your parenting skills another child comes along and throws every proven tactic out of the window! That’s taught me how incredibly important it is to adapt your approach, communication style and goals to your audience’s specific needs, to ensure you are developing outcomes that are beneficial for all parties.
I believe businesses can benefit enormously from the leadership skills acquired through parenting such as negotiation skills, time management, role modelling and compassion. I also believe professionally successful women can offer so much back to their children, their families, their businesses and the community.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR CAREER AND WHAT YOU DO?
When you find yourself working late into the night, not because you need to but just because you love it. It happens to me all the time.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR?
Participating in the JITO Connected International Women’s Day event has to be one of my proudest career moments, because it marks such an important day that’s dedicated to driving gender equality and opportunity. I’m extremely proud to be part of that, and to have the opportunity to influence positive outcomes for our future female leaders.
HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
It’s a really big deal for me as a mother and a manager – I’m passionate about being a positive role-model to my children, colleagues and peers and participating in an event of this calibre is a fantastic opportunity for me to demonstrate that commitment to them.
WHAT DO MORE BUSINESSES NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY? AND WHAT CHANGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE INDUSTRY EMBRACE?
I’d think businesses in general could invest more in career development and leadership training. I think there’s often an expectation that high performers will naturally make great leaders but it’s not always the case. I know many people who have endured debilitating career experiences due to poor leadership. Of course, more support for working mums and dads is a must and it’s encouraging to see many companies reaping the benefits of this approach. And lastly, greater empowerment of people – I’ve seen so much success come from empowering people to do what they do best.
WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU OR WHAT IS ONE UPCOMING PROJECT?
There’s never a dull moment between home life and work, my head is always in a million places at once! While I can’t give too much away at CTM, we’re working on a number of exciting projects across every global market so I’m excited to see them come to life in 2018. I’ve also spent the last 12 months nurturing a highly skilled and collaborative marketing team across our four global regions, which has positioned us to positively influence outcomes for the business. I’m truly fortunate to work with such a passionate, capable and supportive team of professionals in marketing and across every area of our business, and I’m excited to see our achievements in the year ahead. Personally, it’s a milestone year for me, so I’m looking forward to celebrating what’s past and what’s still to come.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Do what you love, be kind, and surround yourself with people you make you shine.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE GOAL?
I have pretty simple aspirations. I want to be able to look back on my life and know that I’ve given my very best to everything I’ve done – be the best mother and wife I can be to my family, and the best manager and mentor I can be to my team, and to position them well to achieve their fullest potential. That’s enough for me.
WHAT IS ON YOUR INSPIRATION BOARD RIGHT NOW?
Anyone who knows me well or has seen my desk will know that I don’t have an inspiration board! My style is more ‘death by post-it note’. But, my virtual inspiration board would consist of:
- Creating more memorable moments with family – I’d love to get us to the snow this year
- Finding more time to read – I love to read but it’s dropped in my priorities since having a family
- Learning new skills, professional and personal
- Touching my toes with straight legs
WHAT DAILY TASKS WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO EMBRACE?
Take time every day to reflect and be grateful for what you have and what you have achieved. These are often the smallest things which can be easily overlooked – a friendly (and on time) bus driver, listening to the morning birds before the household wakes up, admiring the human achievements that surround us (medicines, architecture, engineering). I always find this puts my day in perspective.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR LIFE?
- Make happiness your priority (both yours and others)
- Take your responsibilities seriously (parenting, work) but never take yourself too seriously
- Never stop learning – I’m addicted to short online courses and try to complete a new one every month. It’s great for professional development and gives me a greater sense of worth and accomplishment
- Judge success by happiness
- Be good to others, and it will come back to you
WHAT LIFE QUOTE DO YOU LIVE BY?
I’m not sure if it’s a legitimate quote or not, but I like it all the same: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon.
WHAT IS ONE THING OUTSIDE OF WORK THAT YOUR PASSIONATE ABOUT? OR IS YOUR HOBBY?
There’s two. Firstly travel. I’m so lucky to be able to combine that passion with work and home life. Travel has influenced so much about who I am and how I see the world. I never tire of landing at a new airport for the first time and my first encounters with locals (usually at the Immigration Desk). Secondly dancing. I have apparently got to that stage in life where I don’t care what people think of my moves, and have sustained a number of injuries as a result.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS?
- Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Nurture and embrace your strengths but chip away at improving your weaknesses through continuous learning
- Surround yourself by talented and inspiring people – its infectious
- Invest in developing your team – their growth is a reflection of your ability
- Be good to yourself and others
Annabel Ausmus – Global Chief Marketing Officer – Corporate Travel Management (CTM)
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