Kathryn Ward, director of retail and financial services at Tui Travel UK, tells TTG about her route to the top
I never finished college.
I did work experience at my local Lunn Poly while doing a travel course at college, and never went back. It was a new shop, it had just opened and it needed more people. I was ready to work - although my parents weren’t too impressed.
I’ve done every job in the retail portfolio.
I’ve spent my whole career in the retail sector - it’s given me first-hand knowledge and an understanding of the challenges you face on the frontline.
I am a bit of a change agent.
I was a travel advisor, I managed my own shop, and I was a regional sales manager for quite a while. Spending too long in one area can be bad - you need to be challenged. I like to be on the go and implementing things.
I joined Lunn Poly at a time of real growth.
The operation started with 50 shops and went on to have 500 in the end. Twenty years ago everyone was expanding - they were opening shops quicker than they could handle. Lunn Poly was a really strong brand with investment in marketing.
"There is just something about the travel industry - it just gets to you. It’s a culture you can’t explain"
In the past five years the mergers were a big thing to be involved in.
It was a challenge to bring the Thomson brand together with the First Choice real estate and to have them both together under one structure. Both businesses had good ideas on how to do it - Thomson has a strong heritage but First Choice was possibly more modern. We could take the best of both.
There is just something about the travel industry - it just gets to you.
It’s a culture you can’t explain. You get to travel a lot and work with fabulous people and I can’t see leaving it. I’m lucky; it’s exciting and fast with a work hard, play hard ethic.
If I regret anything it is that I didn’t do a stint overseas.
It does people the world of good to work in retail and then to go overseas or to the airline to see what it is like on the frontline.