with Úna O’Leary, Senior Director, Marketing & Supplier Management, CWT

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Scarborough, Ont.

How long have you been in the business?  11 years in all, including four here at CWT – but I always wanted to be in travel.   

How many people work for you? There are 26 across North America, and we manage about 100 supplier agreements.

What’s the best part of the job? I have a fantastic team, so excited and committed. We have all decided that travel is in our DNA. They make every day a good day!

Judging by your title, you have a pretty big job. A huge job! We have 150 offices in Canada and a variety of U.S. commitments including U.S. military leisure travel. In the U.S. there are just 22 locations because we are more of a call centre situation.

What did you want to be as a kid? I wanted to act.

What was your first ever job? I worked in a food concession stand in (the Toronto neighbourhood) the Beaches, cleaning all the machines. That yellow stuff they put into popcorn? It’s vile. I lasted exactly one day, and earned $11.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Definitely having children. But, thanks to Club Med I’ve also done the trapeze. I’m proud to say I was able to swing from my knees and grab the guy’s hands. But I thought I was going to die.

Any guilty pleasures? Do I admit to The Bachelor? I watch ridiculous mindless television. Oh, and play candy crush.

What’s on your tablet? Photographs, motivating music. And movies.

What do people not know about you? When I was 18, my family drove from Abu Dhabi to Dublin. It took 3 ½ weeks. We drove through countries that don’t even exist anymore.

Any hobbies or interests?  Love to travel, obviously. Love to read. And spend time with my family including my two beautiful girls and my two wonderful stepdaughters.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self? “Slow down. The first idea is not always the right idea. And take risks:  they’re worth it.”

Who do you most admire in the industry? Travel agents. They’re my heroes.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? The ability to take the complex and simplify it.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  Two places, actually: the Mekong and Wales.

Ever had a brush with fame? Yes! Princess Di! My dad was a medical director at Bloorview Hospital in Toronto and she came to see the kids.

What keeps you awake at night? Ridiculous things. Unsolvable mysteries like things I can’t change or fix.

What is your greatest extravagance? Spas.

How do you stay fit when you travel? Walking.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? I’d like people to recognize the value of travel agents and the value they bring.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? My family.  Honestly…that’s where my heart is.

Do you have a favourite charity? Alzheimer’s.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Overcoming socio-economic and geopolitical factors which are always disruptive. But we as an industry are incredibly good at rallying.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Still in travel. I can’t imagine that changing!   

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