Biting Questions with Brett Walker, General Manager Collette Vacations, Toronto

Open Jaw

How long have you been in the business? Since 1989. I had just returned from working for the better part of a year in Australia and happened to meet Dan Sullivan, who is now the CEO and President of Collette. He hired me as a District Sales Manager.

How many people work for you? We are about 30 people all told at Collette.

What's the best part of the job? Seeing the company grow since we first began with nothing. Every day is a new day and we continue to get better.

What did you want to be as a kid? A doctor.

What was your first ever job? Scooping ice cream at McGoo's Ice Cream Parlour at the Hilton hotel, now the Westin, by the ferry docks in Toronto.

What's the scariest thing you've ever done? Work in the travel industry!

Any guilty pleasures? Spending too much time on patios downtown.

What's your favourite airline? Air Canada, I fly them more than any other carrier. However, since I live downtown, I find I'm using Porter a lot because of the convenience of Billy Bishop Airport.

Favourite hotel? Fairmont – I especially love the Banff Springs Hotel.

What's on your iPad? I don't have one!

Any hobbies or interests? I'm an avid reader – novels as well as books on management and business.

When are you happiest? Spending time with my daughters, who are 17 and 14.

Is there anything you won't eat? I'll eat anything!

What's at the top of your bucket list? Actually I'm doing it this year. I'm taking my parents, who are 91 and 83, with me and my daughters to Ireland this summer.

Ever had a brush with fame? I had a summer job at the Royal York in Toronto and Senator Ted Kennedy was a guest at the hotel. He was snuck into the hotel via the freight elevator, and I was operating the elevator. We chatted for about 5 minutes and he made a lasting impression on me. So approachable.

What keeps you awake at night? Not much – I sleep very well! But if anything were, it would be work-related.

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? I travel a lot with my daughters.

What was your proudest moment? My own MBA graduation in 2009. A real achievement as I had been juggling family, work and study.

What is your greatest extravagance? I'm not extravagant or materialistic, but I do enjoy entertaining friends and family.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? I'm fairly comfortable with the state of the industry.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Winston Churchill. Or FDR because I'm a big World War II buff.

What kind of car do you drive? A Kia Sorrento.

Do you have a favourite charity? I actually have 2: I am a wish granter with Make A Wish and am also passionately involved with the Collette Foundation.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? The Canadian dollar.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Still working for Collette, because our industry is poised for greatness with all the boomers poised to travel. Travel has become part of the North American culture and psyche.

(will not be published)