Biting Questions with Wendy Paradis, President ACTA

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Toronto.

How long have you been in the business? I started in 1980 as a travel consultant for Eaton’s Travel at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. I did that for a year, and went to university and worked part time in the industry until I graduated. I’ve also worked with Thomas Cook, Marlin and CAA. I’ve been at ACTA now since May.

How many people work for you? There are about 10 of us.

What’s the best part of the job so far? Getting out and meeting our members and hearing about their challenges and opportunities. By the end of this month I’ll have done trips to Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the West. I’ve immensely enjoyed  learning from the grass roots people and meeting our industry partners. 

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

What was your 1st ever job? Doing birthday parties at McDonalds, when I was 15. I learned a lot about customer service.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Skydiving, here in Ontario.  

Any guilty pleasures? That would be wine and travel.

What’s your favourite airline? My favourite airline experience was with Qantas. It seemed you got on board, went to sleep, woke up, had breakfast, lunch and dinner, went to sleep and you were still on that darned plane. But the crew were such fun and so entertaining.

Favourite hotel? The Maurice in Paris. Great location for the perfect Parisian vacation.

What’s on your tablet? We have a year-round cottage so I look at the weather network to check on the forecast. Plus lots of recipes – I love to cook – as well as Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. I like to connect a lot with my community.

What do people not know about you? I worked for a year in the wine industry.

Any hobbies or interests? Oh yes! I love to hike and do hiking trips here in Ontario and last year a multi-day trip on the Appalachian Trail. And of course, wine!

When were you happiest? At my cottage surrounded by my family. And when travelling! Three years ago for my father’s 80th birthday 16 of us went to Europe and that was such a joy.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Professionally, I really admire people who can communicate their passion. On a more personal level, the ability to sing.

Is there anything you won’t eat? I’m a vegetarian so there’s lots I don’t eat! And when it comes to vegetables, when I was 8 I swore a parsnip would never pass my lips again.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I would like to do a hike in Costa Rica.

Ever had a brush with fame? There’s a TV show filmed in Toronto called Suits and recently on the street I spotted Mike from the show. He waved to me so we did have a moment (laughs).

What keeps you awake at night? The wellbeing of my kids, who are both at university now.

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? Travelling here and there on whimsical trips such as weekend getaways.

What is your greatest extravagance? Travel.

How do you stay fit when you travel? If I’m in an urban setting I like to walk, walk and walk. I’ll also rent a bike and try to get inside the destination.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? I’d like to see us all working together: suppliers, agents, governments, airports… we all need to focus on the bigger picture of a vital industry.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Bill Gates, for his entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropy. He is truly trying to make the world a better place.

Do you have a favourite charity?  The Canadian Diabetes Association and War Amps Champs program. They are both incredible.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? The ongoing weak Canadian dollar and the need to improve agency revenues.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? I see myself close to retirement, travelling more, working more part-time and perhaps connecting wine and travel.

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