06 Feb Meet Michelle Kerr, She’s one Super Inspiring Woman! Mother & Advocate for Justice!
INSPIRING STORY BY JC INSPIRE
Michelle Kerr – Marketing – Magellan Travel Group
A REAL LIFE SUPER WOMEN! A MOTHER OF TWO & AN ADVOCATE FOR HELPING VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING & SEXUAL EXPLOITATION!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO YOU ARE? AND WHAT YOU DO?
My name is Michelle Kerr. I am a mother of two young children, a very compassionate and spirited 5-year-old girl and a gentle yet energic 3-year-old boy. I have been married to my husband for 13 years and we live in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I have worked in the travel industry for 11 years. 10 of those with Qantas Holidays in Marketing and Sales roles. Returning to the workforce after having my son sees me working as Marketing Manager for the Magellan Travel Group on a part time basis. I have been with Magellan just over 12 months now and it is a great privilege to work with such a fantastic team of people and network of members.
In addition to being a Mum and working for Magellan I volunteer for and run the AU/NZ arm of a not-for-profit organisation called Eden Ministry. Eden works throughout Asia to reach, rescue and restore victims of human trafficking and forced sexual exploitation. Eden’s role in AU/NZ is to raise awareness of human trafficking, to be a financial pipeline for the amazing work that the Eden team does on the ground throughout Asia and to raise advocates to add their voice to the work we have ahead of us in bringing an end to this terrible injustice.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP, WHAT WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS? AND WHERE DID YOU GO TO STUDY?
I have very fond memories of my childhood, great parents and an older sister who was and is always a lot of fun. There was always holidays and travels, day trips and adventures. A lot of freedom and encouragement which I think has played a huge role in my love of life, of travel and of adventure to this day.
The idea of following in my mother’s footsteps and becoming a professional ballerina was always high on my childhood dreams list however as the end of high school drew near my interest in the business world, marketing and the temptation to travel and work overseas saw the end to my 15 years of dance training.
I loved my years at university, they were spent focusing on Marketing, Business and Management at both RMIT and La Trobe in Melbourne – with travels throughout Asia and an overseas working stint in a Canadian ski resort scattered in-between.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO YOUR CAREER AT MAGELLAN TRAVEL GROUP?
My career in Marketing and business in general was inspired by a good friend as I was growing up. The somewhat natural progression to focus on travel marketing happened as I moved to Sydney after living in Shanghai for six months at age 25. It was then that I started my employment with Qantas Holidays. My career specifically at Magellan came to life after I had had two children and I encountered a company that I knew well and that was supportive of the things that I valued in life and who were willing to make that work for both of us.
WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE AND DID YOU FEAR ANYTHING?
Two key mistakes that come to mind;
with so many important priorities in life, sometimes I am not great at getting that order correct.
I doubt myself and don’t back myself enough. I know that both my family and my professional environments operate better without my self-doubt and this is therefore a reality that I daily try to balance.
My fear is not getting everything that I put my time and energy into is not 100% correct on first attempt. Crazy I know – I am a perfectionist but I definitely make mistakes. This is something I continually try to work on and learn from.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST WIN SO FAR?
In my roles in the travel industry I am so fortunate to have many found personal memories of fantastic experiences, opportunities and successes. I am indeed a Marketer however at my core I am very much a people person. I think some of my biggest career wins are when I have been a part of establishing great teams of people, worked with fabulous individuals and have been a part of making the workplace not only a productive and effective one but also a place of great development and fun.
In my role at Eden Ministry, my biggest win is the fact that Eden exists in AU/NZ in the way that it does and that it is actively impacting the lives of many. Not only those being reached and rescued from trafficking and exploitation but also those that are being made aware and educated, that are also rising up and adding their voice to bring change and an end to this injustice. Additionally, the financial contribution that we have generated has had a significant and lasting impact.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES CAME EASY AND WHAT ONES DID YOU HAVE TO PUSH FOR?
The initial ideas, contacts and support as I launched Eden in Australia seemed to come without too many barriers. The call felt strong, the ideas were flowing and the motivation peaking. However, like with many things in life – honeymoon periods do come to an end and the reality of continuing to stay the path, build a team, maintain informed & motivated while volunteering and having two young children did, and does at times, feel hard. At times I really have to push to keep momentum, and sometimes it can feel lonely or lacking accountability however this is a passion in my life which I will absolutely keep pushing for, some days are harder than others and that is ok.
In travel I am so fortunate to have had many great opportunities. I am passionate about my work and work very hard at it. I have not experienced any major roadblocks that have held me back from being where I enjoy being and where I want to be.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST HURDLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME IN YOUR CAREER OR LIFE SO FAR? AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
At age 28 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was told that I had a progressive and degenerative disease which has no known cause and no known cure.
This was at a time in my life when I lived with so much freedom and confidence. I had been married to my husband for 5 years and with him by my side I was so sure that we would continue to travel the world, be active, embrace opportunities, love my career path and generally continue on loving life and living it to the full.
My biggest hurdle in life was and continues to be learning to live with MS and staying positive and full of hope for a great and meaningful future, a future that is not restrained by fear of that which is uncertain.
I am daily learning the importance of surrounding myself with positivity, with people who think big and bright and who I know will stand with me no matter what my reality looks like.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR CAREER AND WHAT YOU DO?
When it brings with it an energy and excitement – if this is the case going to work is a part of your life that builds you up and energises you. Even when things are hard or stressful, when they don’t go to plan, you can still function from a place of enthusiasm and a passion to learn from the hard days and make the coming ones better.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR?
I am very lucky to have many really happy career memories already. My work to date in the travel industry is intertwined with brand launches, product launches, new initiatives, industry awards, recognition, opportunities and experiences – all things I look back on with much satisfaction and fond memories.
One particular career highlight comes from a celebration dinner I attended at a local restaurant in regional Asia a few years ago. There I sat with about 15 women who had all come into the love and care of Eden and who were now living physically free and working out their path in life post trafficking and exploitation. Each of those women were sitting at that table because of the work of Eden. For me this dinner took place in the very early days of Eden Australia however it was a pivotal moment when I knew that I had made a great decision in my career and my life.
I knew that I had made a commitment to be a part of a global network of people that were choosing to make a difference and I knew that that difference was going to be significant.
HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
Knowing and understanding the magnitude of the impact we can have by turning up to work and doing our job well means the work becomes something that gives life and energy, not takes it from you. This has shaped the way I think, feel, act, and how I use a lot of my time.
My move into Eden has significantly changed my life and that of my families. We dedicate time and energy volunteering for Eden. I am learning new skills, building new teams, perusing new opportunities, all while becoming significantly more educated about modern day slavery and the injustices that exist in our world today. This does not leave me feeling hopeless, rather I now know more than ever before that there is so much we can do that makes a significant difference in the lives of so many.
WHAT DO MORE BUSINESSES NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY? AND WHAT CHANGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE INDUSTRY EMBRACE?
We have some amazing companies in the travel industry that, at the risk of limiting or reducing their own profits, create change and actively speak out against the negative impacts we, the global traveller, can have on the environments that we visit, the animals we see and the people we come into contact with.
I would love to see more businesses following in these footsteps and being willing to make sacrifices which ensure we are an industry that is actively making a positive difference when it comes to the environment, animal rights and social justice issues.
Travel has the amazing potential to build knowledge, understanding and tolerance. It should not be an activity which drives and delivers demand for exploitation and injustice.
WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU OR WHAT IS ONE UPCOMING PROJECT?
There are so many big things on the horizon for both Magellan and Eden in this coming year. However, if I focus this question toward my family for a moment, the next big thing on the horizon for us is that our eldest child Mayah starts school this year. The logistics around being a working mum and having a child in prep and one in day care is actually going to be a really big thing for me this year. Running a happy and healthy family and having a focus on being present and providing a supportive and nurturing home environment for young children is a really important thing on my very close horizon. Managing this and continuing to give my everything to my career which I love is a big thing for 2018.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Surround yourself with positive people. People that challenge you, inspire you, help you grow, support you, cheer you on – and those that pick you up when you fall and help you get back on track.
I think this is naturally a way I have lived from a young age however this was a message that was specifically given to me not long after my MS diagnosis in 2010. At that time, I didn’t have to look far at all to see, hear and feel so much negativity. Choosing to look away is a good thing at times, not focusing on or tuning into the negativity is a deliberate step I choose to take.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE GOAL?
I hate to sound textbook or cliché however I would have to say that my life goal is to make a positive difference. I find myself being passionate about so many things, and keen to do so many things well. My number one is to love and focus on being a great wife and mum, I want to achieve great things in the travel industry and I want to proactively stand against the injustice of modern day slavery.
WHAT IS ON YOUR INSPIRATION BOARD RIGHT NOW?
A photo of my family travelling in France last year and a quote from William Wilberforce which says “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Family, travel, justice!
WHAT DAILY TASKS WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO EMBRACE?
- Write down a list of what realistically needs to get done on that day and do it.
- Prioritise the things that really matter most.
- Invest in your own health and wellbeing.
- Operate with a positive attitude.
- Wherever you can, step away from that which pulls you down.
- Surround yourself with great people.
- Deliberately breath.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR LIFE?
Be positive; no matter what life throws at you trying to look up, look forward, think bright and not with regrets is guaranteed to make life a whole lot more fun that if you choose the alternative.
Keep learning; never underestimate who you can learn from and what they can teach you.
Have a mentor; purposefully and thoughtfully invite others to help you zoom out on your own life a little (or a lot). Do this in both your professional and personal settings.
Be kind to others; it is going to bring out a better them and it will benefit everyone.
No matter what it entailed, be sure to celebrate the end of your working week with great people and a glass of wine!
WHAT LIFE QUOTE DO YOU LIVE BY?
There is quite a few however a particular favourite for me right now and which is mounted on a wall in our house –
“Eat well, travel often”.
WHAT IS ONE THING OUTSIDE OF WORK THAT YOUR PASSIONATE ABOUT? OR IS YOUR HOBBY?
My primary passion in life sits with my family. Next to my family I love travelling and skiing. Family Ski holidays are just the best as they bring some of my most favourite things in life together.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS?
My thought on success is that it can look very different for different people. And for those people it can look very different at different times and seasons in life. Some days for me success is making it to the end of the day with two children fed and in bed! Others it is running events that have raised thousands of dollars for Eden Ministry and others it is successfully launching new marketing initiatives or technology platforms for the members of Magellan.
The one thing I would say regarding tips for success is that it is often linked to comfort zones and taking the stretch beyond your comfort zone one step at a time. My hunch is that most of the time in life we are not going to know exactly what the opportunities and possibilities are outside of that comfort zone or what it is exactly that we will find at the top of that staircase but choosing to bebold, brave and positive is sure to be a pretty great recipe for achieving success.
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