Sport played an important role in shaping Tom Hawes, business development manager at Intuitive, yet it was travel that truly inspired him, as Andrew Doherty discovers.
Tom Hawes exudes a passion for travel, even going so far as to turn down a position at his father’s successful company to forge his own career in the industry.
However, it was sport that Hawes, now business development manager at Intuitive, proclaims as his first love.
“I studied sport and business for my A-Levels and at Loughborough University I did my degree in Geography and Sport & Leisure Management.”
Whilst at university Hawes began to display business acumen, organising a Sunday league football team where he also acted as treasurer, responsible for the day-to-day finances of the club.
After graduation Hawes’s love of sport began to merge with travel when he journeyed to Canada and gained a ski instructor qualification before travelling in Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Hawes’s appetite for adventure continued to grow and in 2010 he represented a team in an Indian tuk-tuk cross-country charity rally.
“The race was in Northern India and we did around 2,000 miles in a tuk-tuk. The whole thing took us two weeks. That was my best travel experience; there were no tourists, it was completely authentic,” he says.
Hawes’s first professional travel role came when he was appointed as general manager for Nomadic Expeditions.
“I was brought in to do the sales, but I was able to do business development and marketing too. I got to grips with many different elements of the travel industry from a tour operator perspective. It was a great first step. I think the job formed a big part of my career and it enabled me to move to The Family Adventure Company after a year.”
Over the next few years Hawes bolstered his experience in travel, working for Peregrine Adventures, a sub-brand of the Intrepid Group.
“Two to three years in, I was promoted to senior business development manager, which I did for a year. As well as continuing to work in my region I started supervising a team of four business development managers and worked towards not only growing my region but also theirs.”
Following a successful stint at the Intrepid Group, Hawes made the move to Intuitive, where he was tasked with targeting a new sector for the business.
“Historically, Intuitive has been very much inbound-orientated, they’ve never really proactively targeted any company. I was brought in to work specifically with tailor-made operators.”
Within a year Hawes generated the company’s first ever outbound sales leads; however, it was his time at the Intrepid Group that he professes as his career highlight.
“If you want to progress into a senior role within a company, managing a team is something that you are going to have to do. Being in that position, growing my region and seeing my team thrive was a fantastic experience.”
Speaking of TTG’s 30 Under 30, Hawes explains that meeting the other 29 members has been his favourite part of the programme.
“You can see that they are really driven. Half of them own their own businesses and they are really looking to make something for themselves early on in their career.”
For Hawes a key ambition is to become a managing director in the next 5 to 10 years.
“You've only got to look at the likes of James Thornton of Intrepid. He was made managing director of the global company at the age of 31. It's definitely possible. It’s stories like that that really inspire you to go down that route and exceed in it.”
Meet all of this year’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders at ttgmedia.com/travelleaders
Lee Haslett, director of sales at Virgin Holidays – sponsor of TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders – says:
“There are three things about Hawes’s story that really stand out for me. The first is that he is living and breathing the fundamental ethos of the travel industry; that life is about making memories and not about collecting objects. And what better way to do that than to travel the world and experience it first-hand.
The second point that impresses me is his business acumen. He is right that moving around a company and learning the ropes in multiple roles can be a great way to progress your career.
Finally, I am really glad to see the importance he places on managing and developing a great team. Richard Branson always says, ‘train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’. Amen to that.”