Combine your career with your passion for travel – Alec's career journey shows you how

29 April 2016

Combine your career with your passion for travel – Alec's career journey shows you how

Alec Nethery is a straight up kind of guy. He's smart. He's a lot of fun. He's into outdoorsy stuff – scuba diving, climbing, mountaineering and travel. And he was tired of his job.

After ditching his career, he embarked on a new journey with My Adventure Travel. This is his story.

Four years ago – an Exercise Physiologist who was looking for change

Alec had a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a hospital job as an Exercise Physiologist – rehabilitating people through exercise. But after the rigours of uni and the ongoing commitment of work, Alec felt he needed a break.

So he took one. He headed to Guatemala to visit his Dad, who had retired there and was building a house. Alec rented a place and took Spanish lessons and at the end of the house-building project, he decided to continue travelling. Alec met up with friends, travelled around Guatemala, Jamaica, Belize, Honduras, got his diving certificate – basically had the time of his life. Then he came home.

Alec explains: “When I ran out of money and came home, I had no intention of going back to that dreary, depressing hospital. It was rewarding, but it wasn't exciting work for me. I decided travel would be an industry I would appreciate a lot more.”

Applying for a job at My Adventure Travel

Alec doesn't do things by halves. He did his research, checking out all the players in the Australian travel industry. He wanted a career – a company that could offer him a future, not just a job.

He narrowed his choices down to one – My Adventure Travel. A group that specialised in adventure travel – so plenty of travel products that interested him – and was backed by the $13.5 billion mega-corporate of Flight Centre. Plenty of room to grow.

“I did a couple of walk-bys of the store. I went in and had a look around. I liked what I saw so I jumped online and went through their recruitment process. You just tell them what your experience is, where you've travelled, that kind of thing.”

His online application earned him a short phone interview. Next was a group interview, followed by a private interview.

“They sold me on the job in the interview. They told me about all the perks, the travel, the pay structure and the room for growth, which is a big thing for me. And about all the different aspects of working for a company with 15 thousand staff, all the background stuff that keeps it running. There are a lot of different areas and you could go anywhere you wanted. You had to do well where they put you first, but after that, you could go where-ever you wanted. “

From that interview, Alec landed a role in the Newtown My Adventure Travel in Sydney.

Starting out as an Adventure Travel Consultant

A three-week full-time training program is the first step for any new starter in the Flight Centre family of companies. After that, Alec started in the Newtown store. His Team Leader at Newtown had been recognised within the Flight Centre Group as the number one consultant for Youth and Adventure worldwide. A serious achievement.

“It was really good working for her, I could see just what was required to do the role well. As she was Team Leader, I could also learn about the balances and time management and the other things that she had to manage in that role.”

With enthusiasm to learn, a great mentor, a fun team and a passion for travel, it took only about a month for Alec to start generating revenue. He was a natural at his new job.

The first year (and the first free trip!)

After about six months Alec was rewarded with his first free trip. As a top seller of Vietnam trips, he was given a free trip to Vietnam – flights and tour all paid for.

And towards the end of his first year he earned a prestigious award within the Flight Centre Group.

“In that first year I managed to get the Top Novice award, which meant that I was the best performing person that had started in the last 12 months.

“When you're doing well you get a pat on the back and some sort of tangible recognition as well. The award was presented at our annual ball. Getting up in front of a few hundred people with everyone is clapping – it's nice.”

The next challenge – Assistant Team Leader

After that first year, Alec felt he was ready for his next challenge. He kept his eyes and ears open and when an Assistant Team Leader (ATL) position came up in the Pitt Street Sydney Store, he pounced.

It's company policy to promote internally, so while Alec's Team Leader was sorry about the prospect of losing him, she helped him through the process and he won the job. Alec jumped straight into his new leadership role and took the role of training his new staff seriously.

“It was a great leadership experience, teaching other people how to do the role. And I was also learning how the shop works from a financial point of view.”

Another year – and trips to Brisbane, Melbourne, Bangkok, Columbia and Cuba

As ATL, Alec had plenty of training and support and the chance to attend regular ATL meetings. All the ATLs from around the country are flown to Brisbane or Melbourne on a regular basis to talk about how they are performing, current targets, training strategies and any other issues. (Alec tends to add a weekend away on to his Melbourne and Brisbane meetings, to get a little bit more out of the trip.)

There's also an annual ATL conference at a different destination each year . The ATL conference is more about fun and bonding than the regular ATL meetings:

“It's great chance to bond with upper management and the company. It really gives you access to everyone on more than just a business level. You get to know people as the people they are rather than just the role that they do.

“You get to put a face to the name. That person you're calling for that marketing information, or that guy you call when you muck up something... It means that for a company that's spread out across the country, we're actually a tight-knit team that can call on one and other comfortably.”

Alec's hard work this year also earned him a free trip to Columbia. He added on a side trip to Cuba to make the most of it!

Moving up to Team Leader – and running a multi-million dollar business

Alec was ATL at Pitt Street for about a year before he was offered the job as Team Leader.

“As Team Leader, there's a ton more stuff to do, mostly around controlling the direction of your business. That's the big difference. You are the person who runs this store. You run your own business, and it is up to you to make it a profitable business.

“We have to write our own business plans, our own financial plans. We have account for any losses, develop strategies for turning a business around. It's really exciting. It's taking control of a business that turns over millions and millions of dollars a year and saying 'this is what I'm going to do with the money that comes through my door'.”

Alec relished the opportunity to rise to these new challenges and was determined to make the store a success.

A free trip to Antarctica

Meanwhile, the travel opportunities continued. Alec's sales of Antarctic journeys earned him a free trip to Antarctica – an amazing journey that he couldn't have afforded to do himself. While he was there, he signed up for the optional mountaineering excursions. A group of ten people had the opportunity to go out with three experienced mountaineers and make attempts on a few different Antarctic summits.

“At Deception Island, which is actually a volcano, you push out from the boat through the ice and step on to the sand and the sand is actually steaming because the caldera is still active. You could dig a hole in the sand and have a hot bath. We trekked off into the cold heights and managed to climb all the way to the top. We got a magnificent view from the summit. You could see the whole shape of the volcanic caldera. It was really impressive”

It's as out-there as adventure travel gets.

So what's next for Alec?

Alec's first goal is getting his store on track with profits. When he started as Team Leader the store was struggling and his main aim was to turn it around into a profit-making store.

“We're hitting our targets. We're aiming to improve on last year. It's a case of getting the right staff in the store and keeping them. We've got a couple of newbies who are working out really well, we've got a great team together now. We should be on track to turn it around.”

Alec has a future plan in place that he worked out with his General Manager. In the longer term, he is aiming towards a Senior Team Leader or Brand Leader position – a national role that works across a number of stores.

“I'm also working in the Emerging Leaders program. You work with one of the General Managers of one of the Brands. They work with you and mentor you, help you within your current business and help you work out how you're going to get to the next stage. It's a great program. It makes you look forward. You're not feeling like you're sitting in one place, you've got a bigger picture plan as well.”

Alec loves his job – the challenges that running the business involves and the vision for his future career.

“Still, for me,” says Alec, “the biggest win is the travel.”