15 Feb Interview with the incredible Demi Kavaratzis, and her Empowering Story
We Chat with Demi Kavaratzis, Partner Marketing Director for Expedia Group all about her career journey, life experiences and her personal empowering story.
Demi shares her journey to inspire other women on how important inclusion, diversity and allyship is in the workplace and community.
Demi is also one of our speakers for both Sydney and Auckland 2020 A Force For Good Events as she focusses her topic on “Success Redefined” Her experience and advice are aimed to empower others, it will surely be an incredible keynote for those lucky to see her.
Expedia Group is also one of the sponsors for both Sydney and Auckland 2020 Events.
Check out our amazing Interview with Demi here…
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role at Expedia Group.
I have worked with Expedia Group for more than a decade (time goes by quickly when you are having fun!). I have held a variety of senior commercial business roles spanning across Expedia Group’s air, lodging, car and travel insurance supply and retail organization.
Prior to joining Expedia Group, I held several travel and tourism industry roles within Travel Management, Corporate and Accommodation segments, giving me a unique end-to-end view of the industry from supplier to leisure and corporate travel-distribution.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Not one day is the same for me, which I absolutely love. I work in a truly global team environment which enables me to experience diversity in cultures every single day.
Some days I start very early! I find myself putting on mascara sometimes at 5:30am for a 6am conference video-call to connect with my USA colleagues. By midday in Sydney, our Asia Pacific team starts their day, so I might spend some time with them, followed by sometimes connecting with European colleagues late afternoon and into the night.
My current role is focused on Business to Business (B2B) communications and channel marketing across Expedia Group’s global network of 500+ air suppliers
I connect with our airline industry supply-partners face to face often too, which brings a lot of diversity to my day, and it helps me understand what is trending and important to airlines and how Expedia Group might better serve our airline partners and customers
I was told by a friend recently that, “I don’t ever need to live overseas because you work around the world every single day”. I totally agreed with her.
What drove you to your career and what was your career journey?
The love for travel of course! However, for me it was more than that… I was always interested in business operations. Thinking about it, my childhood experiences untimely drove me into a career in travel and business operations
I am a Greek Australian. As a child my parents went back to Greece a lot. My first ever trip was going to Greece with Singapore airlines. I still remember the excitement I felt being at the airport. I still remember the beautiful cabin crew giving my sisters and I games to play onboard. I fell in love with travel from those experiences.
When I was little, one of my favorite toys I had was a cash register I used to go around my house asking mum to tell me how much each item in our house would cost and for her to buy it from me, just so I can ‘ring up a sale’ on my cash register. I guess I loved the supply and demand concept from then which drove me to an interest in business operations.
I studied a business degree, at the University of Technology of Sydney. Going through school and university, International studies was my favorite subject. Accounting my very least.
I always held either a hotel operational role or retail of some kind, while studying. This enabled me to understand how important being customer centric really is and is the key to any business that wants to thrive.
I took a year off my university degree and worked in China, which for me was the first real exposure to working abroad in a culturally diverse environment. I loved it. I learnt a lot especially about a culture I had not been really exposed to previously.
I worked in a number of Sales and Marketing hotel and Corporate Travel roles before joining Expedia Group with our lodging team.
I was always curious to understand the travel industry as a whole and not individual components. I believe for a traveler to have a great trip be for business or leisure, it all needs to connected beautifully. So, I exposed myself to learning as many parts of what makes a great trip as I could, which helped me see the wider picture of this incredible industry.
What advice would you be giving to those who are pursuing a career in Travel?
Be curious. You might think a career in hotels, airlines or travel/technology is interesting like I did, so dive into the industry as much as you can. I started as an accommodation supply expert, but today I am an airline nerd with a marketing hat on. Go figure! The more fingers you have in more pies, the more flexible and agile you can be in your career.
Every day will be different that way too! A decade might pass, and you will still be full of energy and excited about what you do and how much more you can learn!
What mistakes did you make, and did you fear anything?
Mistakes… oh boy plenty! I would not be here without making mistakes! “Slow down to speed up” is always something I need to remind myself every day and probably something I feared.
I feared if I slowed down, I would miss opportunities which I would regret later in life. I soon realized, there is no such thing as a ‘mistake’ or a ‘missed opportunity’. I learnt, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. So, stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey!
Demi, your career journey and personal story is empowering. Can you tell us about it?
Our whole lives people are told if you work hard you will be successful. This is not true for everybody due to many barriers put in front of them by your race, gender, your geography or life experiences; which could be anything from having a baby, looking after elderly parent, or for me becoming a young widow, and finding it difficult to comes to term with grief limiting my overall abilities.
I was married for 13 months and finally living the life I wanted. My husband Matthew passed away suddenly and unexpectedly 13 months into our marriage.
For me, that’s where allyship comes in.
What does Allyship mean to you?
Allyship is any person who takes actions – big or small. Looking at the person next to you and knowing what they are going through and helping them survive (in my case), succeed and thrive in others.
Going through my journey, having a supporting allys within a flexible environment made all the difference between spiral down and not recovering or going through the stages I needs to recover.
Do you have any secret passions or hobbies?
I am brilliant at home improvement (if I say so myself!). Everybody that first meets me simply does not believe me. Don’t judge the book by its cover, I say! I love to create so D.Y.I. projects are perfect for me. I can fix any small jobs around my house, including restoring my entire front yard. I also have a green thumb! I love plants, the greener the better!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Be Humble, Be Hungry and Always be the hardest working in the room”. Ohh.. be curious too! Curiosity get you hungry to explore both professionally and personally
Tips for success?
Be different and the best way to do that is be yourself. There is only one “Demi K” which is my biggest competitive advantage above everything else. Let’s face it, there is only one of me, and only one of you. Nobody else can be you as good as you, so be your best self!
What do more business need to do differently? And what change would you like to see the industry embrace?
I believe when people are allowed to be themselves engagement, creativity and innovation flourish in the organization. For people to be themselves flexibility to be individual I believe is the key.
Businesses need to adopt a flexible work places and working arrangements culture to help team members balance work and personal priorities.
- Create options for teams to work remotely or adjust individual work schedules or office commutes.
- Equipped team members with the tools and technology to perform their required tasks remotely to remain incredibly connected no matter where they may be working.
- Create “wellness” spaces to support employee’s life journey e.g. nursing mothers and others.
At Expedia Group we create a nurturing and diverse environment to allow global teams to work together and thrive.
What is your talk at A Force for Good event about?
My talk is about redefining your success. My life strategy like most was always to achieve, dream big, and abandon fear. Though my personal journey I realized to be an all rounded leader or “successful person” it’s more than just achieving your ambitious goals. It’s about creating true connections within your workplace, community with a wide range of people.
As a young widow, having a supporting allys within a flexible environment made all the difference between spiral down and not recovering or going through the stages I needed to recover from my personal loss. I think Allyside is the most important of building our own career, and to help others build theirs.
Tell me about Expedia Group in Australia / What led you to participate in this year’s A Force for Good event?
Expedia Group is the World’s Travel Platform. Our purpose is to bring the world within reach. Behind our platform is a talented team. Getting involved in this event reflects what we do day in day out in our offices around the world – we’re creating a workplace where exceptional people with a passion for tech and travel want to do their best work.
From a personal level, I want to participate in this year’s Force for Good to share my journey to inspire other woman on how important inclusion, diversity and allyship is in the workplace and community. Inclusion and diversity for me isn’t just people it’s also what’s inside people, including embracing diversity of emotions in yourself and in others.
See Demi speak at both Sydney and Auckland 2020 A Force For Good Events as she focusses her topic on “Success Redefined” Her experience and advice are aimed to empower others, it will surely be an incredible keynote for those lucky to see her.
See Event details on aforceforgoodhub.com/events/