A FORCE FOR GOOD hub | Q&A with the Inspiring Ana Pedersen
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Q&A with the Inspiring Ana Pedersen

Ana Pedersen – Global Director Corporate Sales – QBT Travel
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO YOU ARE? AND WHAT YOU DO?

I’m naturally an inquisitive person. Those who know me both personally and professionally know how driven, and well, competitive I am too! I use this drive as my daily motivation.

I’ve recently relocated back to Australia after a successful 15 years working in large market global TMC sales. In July 2017 I joined the Helloworld Travel Group heading up Sales for QBT and APX across Australia & NZ.

Today I look after Sales and Marketing and am focused on significantly growing our corporate accounts.

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TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP, WHAT WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS? AND WHERE DID YOU GO TO STUDY?

I’m a born and bred ‘Bondi’ girl. When I was young Bondi was a typical blue-collar working class suburb, certainly very different to its glamourous profile of today. I count myself lucky that I grew up by the beach and its beauty.

As a teenager, I had two big dreams – one was to play netball for Australia and the second was to work in travel. Whilst I did represent NSW in netball, I never made it to the Australian team. However my dream to work in travel was realised when I joined Qantas at the age of 21.

I studied marketing after leaving school and then later completed a post-graduate degree in Business at Macquarie University through MGSM. A perpetual learner, I’m soon to complete my MBA in Business and Technology at AGSM through the UNSW. Most of my close friends think I take on too much, but I feel through continuous learning I’m keeping myself relevant in an ever-changing business world.

WHAT DROVE YOU TO YOUR CAREER IN TRAVEL?

It all came about from my work experience days in high school. I knew I had the desire to work in the travel industry, and after my work experience at a local travel agency, that aspiration was solidified. There was never any doubt – from a very young age I wanted to work in travel. What I didn’t know back then was which sector of travel I would end up in.

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE AND DID YOU FEAR ANYTHING?

I’m not really the type of person that has regrets. I reflect on how I may have perhaps taken a different course of action, and always tried to learn from my experiences.

If there was one thing I would have done differently, it would be finishing my MBA prior to having a family so I wouldn’t need to sacrifice time with my family today. But that’s also part of my experience and life learnings. It’s what makes me who I am today.

I don’t fear anything. That’s a big part of my personality. I’m all about having a go and taking on new challenges. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST WIN SO FAR?

My biggest professional win is still to come when I complete my MBA. This may seem trivial for some people and I understand that, but it has required a lot of sacrifice from my family and myself with countless hours of study.

It has been a lifelong goal of mine and I’m nearly there. My next biggest win was having the opportunity to work oversees in both Singapore and the United States and oversee large market global sales for one of the world’s largest TMC’s. It was a highlight of my career and taught me so much that I’m now able to apply my learnings and experience here in Australia.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES CAME EASY AND WHAT ONES DID YOU HAVE TO PUSH FOR?

Nothing has come easy for me. I had to be my own advocate and push for every opportunity. I’ve had to prove myself every step of the way and that’s ok, because I believe in myself and what I have to offer. I have no regrets in how I advocated for myself but it was important to have the right attitude and commitment to where I wanted to be in my career. By doing so, I’ve earned the respect and advocacy of some great mentors and senior leaders.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST HURDLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME IN YOUR CAREER OR LIFE SO FAR? AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

I was an avid horse rider and whilst living in the US I had a near-fatal accident. It took months to recover. I realized just how lucky I was to have survived and not have ended up in a wheelchair. But I was most scared of what it could have meant for my young family. I therefore made the decision to never ride again so I can be here for the most important people in my life. Many others would have got back on and tried to ride again. I will admit I did try but I couldn’t shake off the guilt if something happened again.

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HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR CAREER AND WHAT YOU DO?

When I can give back to my team and those around me based on my experience as a leader and mentor and I can support them in their own plans to develop and grow.

I want to walk away from my interactions knowing I’ve added genuine value, and most importantly I’ve helped people, and the business, achieve good outcomes.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR?

I could say it was when I won a major account, or when the team exceeded the global sales target year after year, but that’s what’s expected of us in sales roles.

On a more personal level, it was when I was three months pregnant and I decided to apply for the role of Vice President Sales Asia Pacific for BCD Travel who I was working for at the time in Australia.  Normally, nothing would’ve stopped me. I’ve always been confident but I was in a unique situation being pregnant, and for the first time, I really felt I wouldn’t be considered for the role.

I confided in one of my executives who encouraged me to apply by re-telling me of the promotions she had received over her many years of service at BCD, whilst she too was pregnant. So I applied and I was successful. For most, this may not seem like a proud career moment but for me having grown up in a traditional household of Portuguese and Brazilian parents, the woman’s place was at home with her family. She didn’t apply for roles which would see her travelling and have her away from her family, let alone when she was pregnant. This to me was a huge milestone not only professionally but personally too. That executive at BCD later became one of the most influential and inspiring people in my career and is still a close friend today.

HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

It became the stepping stone to my global sales career in the corporate travel sector and resulted in my family and me relocating to Singapore for 18 months with a 14 month old toddler. Here I managed BCD’s sales for Asia-Pacific. Later we relocated to the United States for six years where I oversaw large market global sales and towards the end, the global hotel strategy for the company.

WHAT DO MORE BUSINESSES NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY? AND WHAT CHANGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE INDUSTRY EMBRACE?

I’d like to see more Australian businesses embrace flexible working arrangements and virtuality. Technology is having a major impact on our work habits. We are an ‘always on’ society allowing us to work at any place and at any time. Having recently returned from living abroad, I saw first-hand how flexible and virtual working practices resulted in the ability to tap into a wide range of travel experts such as; mature and tenured travel professionals in the senior age brackets, parents requiring flexibility due to family commitments, opportunities offered to those less able due to disabilities and younger generations the ability to work as it suited them. We need to continue to push boundaries on how we grow our talent pool within the travel industry in Australia so we can continue to employ, develop and grow a highly committed workforce.

WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU OR WHAT IS ONE UPCOMING PROJECT?

Right now my focus is really getting down to hard work in my new role at QBT and making a positive impact to the business.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

To believe in yourself every step of the way and not let others decide your fate for you. Be your best advocate in everything you do.

WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE GOAL?

This is the sentimental side of me. My life goal is simple. It’s to see my son grow up and pursue his life dreams and that I can be there to support him along the way as a friend, as a mentor and as a parent and to have my husband by my side through this amazing journey of life.

WHAT IS ON YOUR INSPIRATION BOARD RIGHT NOW?

I’ve recently been inspired by former Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly. I’ve just finished reading her book ‘Live, Lead, Learn’ and found so much inspiration from this amazing talented woman. Gail broke through various glass ceilings in a male dominated industry but experienced many similar challenges along the way that many of us career women face every day. She spoke candidly about her mistakes, her success and her learnings. Most of all she pointed out how human she is and that attitude is everything and believing in yourself is critical.

WHAT DAILY TASKS WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO EMBRACE?

On your way to work is you ‘personal’ time…I listen to podcasts to get me in the right frame of mind. I’m only human and I too need inspiration from others at times. But my most important daily tasks which I’ve only recently employed is when I drive into my home garage at night, I leave any negativity from day behind in the car and I walk into my home leaving the troubles and pressures of the day behind. Once I walk through the door I become a mum and a wife again and bring in a positive and loving attitude home.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR LIFE?
  1. Be yourself
  2. Respect others
  3. Learn to be ‘in the zone’ and give others your undivided attention when talking to you
  4. Make a difference in someone’s life who is less fortunate than you
  5. And..have fun along the way
WHAT LIFE QUOTE DO YOU LIVE BY?

Believe in yourself. You can do anything

WHAT IS ONE THING OUTSIDE OF WORK THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT? OR IS YOUR HOBBBY?

I love playing tennis and could play every single day if I had the time and didn’t have a care in the world.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS?

Follow your dreams, work hard, study hard but never let others determine your path for your own future. You are the only one that can control that so make sure you do.

CONNECT & INSPIRE

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