Working for a leading luxury Tour Operator, Kamila shares her journey with us.
When did you attend CCS?
I attended CCS from 2005 to 2012.
You currently work in the travel industry, how have you adapted to the pandemic?
The travel industry has been very badly affected during this pandemic. When the first lockdown took place, we had to quickly work together to bring all our clients’ home. This meant creating a response team that worked overnight. After this initial surge in work, we suddenly faced a huge number of cancellations and postponements.
In general, the industry has had to become more flexible than ever and with all the uncertainty that the pandemic brought, sadly many travel companies did not make it. Currently the company I work for has half of its staff on flexible furlough and everyone is working from home. It took a while for everyone to settle into working from home, but I think we are all getting the hang of it now. We have hope that when it is safe to travel, we will see a surge in interest for holidays, especially as clients now understand the importance of booking through a travel agent.
We must ask, which are your top countries to visit and where would you like to go in the future?
This is a question that I get asked a lot. I work as a Latin America specialist, it’s the part of the world that I identify with the most. Even though I am biased, I do believe it is the best travel destination as it is such a diverse part of the world.
My top three countries would be Peru, where you can experience history and incredible landscapes. Galapagos, where the wildlife is breath-taking and sealions join you when you are swimming. Lastly, Chile, where in one trip you see snow-capped mountains, vineyards, and the driest desert in the world.
What was your career path, and did you always know you wanted to go into travel?
I didn’t always know I wanted to go into travel. However, I did know that I enjoyed learning about other cultures and seeing the world through different lenses. Every culture has a unique way of living life and I found that fascinating. This is the reason I loved languages; it gave me the tools I needed to learn more about diverse cultures. I, therefore, went to read French and Hispanics Studies at King’s College London.
During the third year of my four-year degree, I studied abroad. I spent half the year in France and the other half in Mexico. This is where I learned that travelling was more than just something I enjoyed, it was something I wanted to keep doing for as long as possible. When I came back, I started researching what jobs I could do where I could use my knowledge of the culture and geography of countries I had travelled to. This is when I learned about specialist travel agents. The company I currently work for, Abercrombie & Kent, had a graduate programme the year I finished Uni. I have been there four years now and have learned a lot.
High and lows in your career, anything you would do differently and what about the future?
The high in my industry must be the perks you can get for your own travel as well as the fact that you are working and getting to know people from all around the world. The thing I found hardest was getting used to the competitiveness of this industry. You always need to do your best to hit your targets and give your clients exactly what they are looking for. I don’t regret anything in my career, the only thing I would maybe change is doing a joint degree with languages such as Spanish and Business Studies, instead of focusing on two languages.
What advice would you give to current CCS students/or fellow alumni?
I would say, do what you enjoy. Find that one job where you can use your knowledge and passion and work hard to get where you need to get to. Always be ready to learn and change. You will always be learning new things.
And your favourite subject at school?
I always enjoyed French, Spanish and Business Studies. These were the subjects I did at A-level and I enjoyed them all.
Do you have any memories of your time at CCS, any teachers you remember?
I have so many great memories of my time at CCS. Whenever I think back to my time at school, I always feel so grateful for all the teachers that helped me; my tutor Ms Stevens and all the language department (they are all fantastic!).
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