Natasha Iacona, assistant management accountant at Intrepid Travel, leapt into the world of travel at a young age as a figure skater competing internationally throughout Europe and Canada.
“Travel first became important to me when I was nine. Through ice-skating I had the opportunity to compete in some amazing countries such as Hungary, Switzerland, France and Italy,” she says.
Deciding against skating professionally, Iacona graduated from college in 2008 and began working at Sherringtons LLP, an accountancy agency in Basingstoke, where she trained part time for her Association of Accounting Technicians qualifications.
It wasn’t until she was made redundant, and worked a brief stint as an analyst for Vodafone, that she rediscovered travel in 2010 when she began working for The Family Adventure Company as an accounts executive.
“When I left school I thought I would run away from maths, and I never really saw myself working in travel. I didn’t know much about adventure travel when I first joined and thought it was about throwing yourself off mountains or something. But working there opened my eyes; I learnt that travel is what you make of it.”
In 2012 The Family Adventure Company merged with tour operator Intrepid Travel. Iacona then took a six-month career break to volunteer, clearing vegetation in the Galapagos Islands, and to explore South America.
“I started in Mexico and tried to fit everything in – Brazil, Chile, Peru – I went everywhere except to some of the Central American countries.
“The Galapagos was my favourite because of the people. I stayed in a small guesthouse and the owners made me feel so welcome. I’ve been to India and Nepal and found the locals were equally lovely. Often people who have so little are happiest and we can learn a lot from them, the main lesson being that you don’t need material things to be content.”
In 2014 Iacona was promoted to her current position, a role that has allowed her to branch out from finance.
Project-managing Intrepid’s move from Hampshire to their new European headquarters in Brixton has been her biggest challenge and greatest achievement, she explains.
“It’s something I am proud of because it went so well and I never thought I would get the opportunity to do it. From picking out the furniture to ensuring the team knew how to get there, I made sure everyone felt as if it was his or her new home.”
With nearly seven years under her belt at Intrepid, Iacona has immersed herself in travel.
“Travelling is one of the perks of working at Intrepid. It is such a fast-paced industry, you’ve got to go with the flow and learn from everything you do and everyone you meet.”
And TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders programme has offered Iacona just such an opportunity to widen her network and learn from new people.
“30 Under 30 has given me the opportunity to meet people in completely different areas of the industry. It might make you want to branch out into something new or give you the inspiration you need to start your own business,” she adds.
Nick Hughes, sales & marketing director, Attraction World – sponsors of TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders – says:
“A genuine love for travel has enabled Iacona to truly immerse herself into her role at Intrepid. Her travel experiences have influenced her progression and current level of responsibility, to which adopting the right, positive attitude has been key.
To project manage any office relocation is no mean feat, but with the high-level ability that she has demonstrated on many occasions, it seems no challenge is too big.
Her humility really shines through, which must be commended, and her understanding of what it takes to positively react from knock-backs (as she experienced from redundancy), highlights that it’s how you respond to life’s challenges that defines your future.
Iacona will continue to gain more experiences through travel, life and business, which means she will not stop in her current role, of that I am sure. TTG’s 30 Under 30 will be part of the journey on her next, upward career move.”