Extensive travel with her family as a child first sparked Charlene Canning's interest in travel – a passion that has stayed with her ever since and lead to a rewarding career.
While still at high school Charlene researched what was involved in becoming a flight attendant. She also worked part time in a restaurant to gain customer service experience. Then she enrolled in the Certificate in Travel Operations at CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury). "I chose it on the recommendation of my tourism teacher at high school and also because my mum had studied there."
Charlene loved the course. "I really enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed every subject and the tutors made a real effort to make learning interesting and ensure all their students succeeded. It was what I was interested in and that motivated me to do my best and complete every component in order to graduate and work in the industry that I love."
A significant component of the course involved planning, executing and participating in a field trip with her classmates. "That was a highlight. It was both an excellent learning experience and a lot of fun."
Charlene landed herself a job with House of Travel even before she'd graduated. Over several years with the company, she held a number of project co-ordination and project management roles. "I learned a lot about the business and how things work," she says.
Working overseas was always on the cards for this travel enthusiast. Charlene is now based in Sydney, working as the manager of the e-commerce product management department at Amadeus IT Pacific. Her team is responsible for the evolution of Amadeus' suite of online solutions, including corporate and leisure travel online booking tools, web services and search technology. Before this she was an e-commerce service delivery consultant for Amadeus.
The promotion requires Charlene to travel a lot. "I normally travel to Bangkok once a year and to various places in Australia and New Zealand six to eight times a year."
Charlene says her qualification in travel was the foundation for all her roles within the travel and tourism industry.
"It helped me enormously to understand how the industry operates. Previous employers have mentioned that it's easier to train someone in IT skills than in travel and tourism skills, so I'm lucky to have gained this qualification at CPIT."
Working for Amadeus has opened many doors for Charlene. In the future she'd like to work in a regional/central office in another country to learn how other markets operate. But whatever she does, she says she'll be happy in any role, "as long as it's within the travel and tourism industry".