A FORCE FOR GOOD hub | Matthew Cameron-Smith’s Inspiring Story from HUMBLE beginnings…
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Matthew Cameron-Smith’s Inspiring Story from HUMBLE beginnings…

INSPIRING STORY by JC Inspire
Matthew Cameron-Smith – Managing Director – Trafalgar Tours

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From HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, Trafalgar Managing Director Matthew Cameron-Smith ALWAYS wanted to MAKE HIS WAY in the WORLD. Even though he had NO IDEA what he wanted TO DO, he knew he wanted to WORK HARD.

What’s MEANT TO BE will always FIND A WAY

From the age of 12, he did stints as a labourer, working in a fruit shop, then when he left school he started as a waiter. “My parents instilled a strong work ethic through leading by example”. “I was very interested in fashion,” Matt tells Jito. “One of the customers who I got to know was head of human resources for Just Jeans where I eventually got a job.” Within 12 months, he had become the youngest store manager in the history of the company at the time and went on to become part of its store opening team. “One of the state managers moved across to Myer and asked me to come across so I ran the men’s fashion area,” he says. But Matt was still young and when the urge came to “find himself”, he headed west to a gold mining camp in West Australia.

“The money was crazy,” he recalls. “I worked as a housemaid and kitchen hand – six weeks on and one week off.” When the breakfast cook quit, Matt ended up taking on that role and then managing the entire camp, running the rooms division for eight months.

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Think BIG, work HARD, NEVER STOP

With no television and no radio, Matt began to read motivational books to pass the time. He realised he needed to do some further study. He returned east to study Human Resource Development at a university in Brisbane where he met the HR Manager for Dreamworld. While he studied, he worked at Dreamworld. After two months, he got a sales executive role and then became the state sales manager. Matt’s next step was a two-year stint working for South Bank developing retail and wholesale retail products along with a tourism strategy for its Wildlife Experience.

“I had to find ways to monetise the product when it was free admission,” he explains. But when his partner at the time accepted a role in Sydney, decided to make the move south joining Rydges Hotels & Resorts as Leisure Sales Manager before moving up to National Leisure Sales.

THE SECRET to CHANGE is FOCUS all YOUR ENERGY not on fighting the old but FINDING THE NEW

As much as he loved working in tourism and hospitality, Matt felt the need for another change and so, lured by the hefty commissions, became a Search Consultant in recruitment for the banking and finance industries. “I loved it because it stretched me,” he said. But Rydges wasn’t going to let him go that easily. The company approached Matt to move to London to take up the role of Director of Business Development for the UK, London and the Middle East – an offer which he accepted. After three amazing years in London, Rydges asked him to return to Australia to run Global Leisure Sales. But Matt wasn’t done with London just yet. Tourism Australia then asked him to go back to the UK capital to take on the role of Director Distribution and Partner Development for the next three years.

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CHASE your DREAMS but always KNOW THE ROAD that’ll lead you HOME

When that time was up, Matt came back to Australia to become Tourism Australia’s Manager of International Operations before switching over to a more marketing-focused role as General Manager Trade Marketing. “I had a total of seven years with Tourism Australia and I absolutely loved it,” he says. Nonetheless, that time was to come to an end. “I got a call from John Weeks from The Travel Corporation to join Trafalgar as Managing Director,” he tells Jito. “I met Gavin Tollman and it was such inspirational interview – his vision for the brand, his unrelenting passion for the brand to be different and to stand out was really exciting.” Reentering the commercial world was not without its challenges, however. Although Matt had maintained his strong commercial ties, the move meant going back to strict profit and loss measurement – fortunately something Matt says he really enjoys. Six and half years later Matt is still leading Trafalgar in Australia.

TAKE PRIDE in how far YOU HAVE COME and have FAITH in HOW FAR you can go.

The company has given Matt one of his proudest moment to date – winning the National Travel Industry Award in 2012.

“It had been almost 10 years since Trafalgar had been recognised on that stage,” he explains. “It was great validation from our industry partners that we were on the right track in terms of innovation and delivering value.” Matt is a true believer in not taking the easy route. None of his opportunities came easy, he insists. “And usually those that do are not memorable as you haven’t earned them,” he expands. “I’ve always believed in pushing myself.” He is a firm believer that you are constantly being assessed on the job you are doing, regardless of where you want to end up.

“So always do the best with what you’ve got,” he suggests.

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HERE ARE MATT’S WORDS OF ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO GET AHEAD:

  • Know what you stand for. As Martin Luther King said: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.
  • Have integrity – you need to be the face of your brand and you need to be passionate about it.
  • Let your team shine, be a leader and bring them on the journey – if you recognise your team, develop and reward them then they will raise you up as a leader.
  • When it comes to networking make sure you are giving and not just taking – you need to contribute.
  • Keep learning – don’t ever think that you know it all.

 

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