Qualified training and development specialist
within the travel industry.
Fi is a qualified training and development specialist who has spent her career leading, training, coaching, developing, and recruiting within travel and hospitality.
Her career started as a junior manager with a boutique hotel chain, learning all areas of hotel operations including sales, service and management, before moving into leisure travel with Lunn Poly (TUI), first as a travel consultant, and latterly as Progression Regional Sales Manager. Winning several awards, Fi’s achievements included 'Shop of the Year', 'Highest Revenue Increase of the Year' and '100% Mystery Shopper Awards'.
As Co-op Travelcare’s Training and Development Manager, Fi led a team of national training officers, providing training and development to over 400 branches, call centres and business travel operations. She was responsible for winning national training awards from Travel Weekly and TTG for the design and results generated from innovative courses.
Moving to Cape Town in 2005, Fi became Go2Africa.com’s Head of Sales, Operations and Organisation Development. Growing the sales team from 16 to over 50 high performing Africa Safari Specialists, she was given the autonomy to strategically lead and manage multiple departments and functions, achieving high year-on-year profitability consistently throughout her tenure.
Returning to retail leisure travel, Fi joined Pentravel, South Africa's largest independent retail travel chain, as its National Sales and Organisation Development Manager. Implementing people, training, sales and organisation development initiatives, policies, and procedures, she led the business to exceed all previous year profits and annual budgets.
Forming Big Ambitions in 2013, Fi helped prominent international travel businesses recruit and train travel people. Recognised as ‘the’ travel sales trainer in South Africa, she was the Mystery Shopper for South Africa’s Travel News Weekly and ETNW and chosen by South Africa’s number one Travel Industry Portal, ‘Travel Info’, to write its e-learning sales programme.
Fi returned to the UK in 2015, joining Progressive Travel Recruitment. Here, she further developed her global travel network, being relied upon and chosen by some of the world’s largest travel, hospitality, and technology brands as their preferred recruitment partner.
In 2020, Fi founded Progressive Travel Training alongside James Roberts and Tony Macdonald, her fellow directors at Progressive Travel Recruitment. Her passion for training and development, along with her knowledge of the industry, helped her to identify a gap in the market to provide soft skills training in the form of easily accessible e-learning courses created by subject matter experts who have done the jobs you do, and who know what it takes to succeed.
Fi currently lives in the Peak District with her husband, four children and rescue dog Nala.
Progressive Travel Recruitment was established in 2005 by James Roberts, at the age of 29. Having spent time working as a regional manager for British Airways and a global travel manager with Siemens, he moved into travel industry recruitment with one of the industry’s largest companies at the time.
A highly ambitious top performer with a passion for doing things the right way, James recognised that with changes to business practices and hiring the right team, he could create a more successful, more people-centric business of his own.
Following a few years in retail management with Tesco, Tony returned to full time education, studying travel and tourism, after which he spent four years at British Airways’ head office, working on business development and account management, primarily nurturing relationships between the airline and its tour operator partners.
Moving to First Choice Holidays, he managed its scheduled flights contact centre before joining student travel specialist STA Travel as a multi-site manager for its retail operation. An opportunity arose in 2007, when he became co-owner of Progressive Travel Recruitment.
International travel industry Human Resources Director
Harvinder has worked within human resources for over 18 years, holding several senior executive positions. An experienced HR Professional within the charity, financial, law, retail and travel industries, she is skilled in labour relations, organisational design & development, management & leadership, compensation and talent management.
Harvinder has strong commercial awareness with a Master's degree focused in Human Resources Management from Bournemouth University. She is an Accredited Mediator from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is able to mediate in civil and commercial disputes including the workplace. She heads up the health & safety responsibilities for NCLH and is IOSH Managing Safely qualified.
She is the Director of Human Resources for Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, responsible for Europe, Middle East and South Africa regions, overseeing all strategic HR operations for three cruise companies.
Harvinder is married and lives on the south coast of England. Living by the beach, she enjoys outdoor watersports including paddle boarding. She is a keen reader of literature, in particular Shakespeare and poetry. She enjoys the theatre, keeping fit and spending time with her family and friends.
Travel industry PR, marketing and communications specialist
Natalia is the Managing Director of Big Ambitions, a specialist Cape Town-based travel marketing and content consultancy which assists travel and tourism organisations and destinations to connect with their customers and target markets.
Exceptionally well connected within the tourism and travel sectors in South Africa, Natalia has marketing, PR and management experience, has worked on projects in the UK, Mozambique and South Africa and has extensive travel and tourism industry knowledge and first-hand experience of retail travel, wholesale travel, destination marketing, inbound tourism and outbound tourism, and leisure and corporate travel.
Natalia has completed an online marketing diploma with University of Stellenbosch, Honours in Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Witwatersrand and Masters in Publishing with specialisation in online publishing field at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. She was also formerly the publisher and editor of several travel trade publications in South Africa.
Travel writer, journalist and editor
Sophie is a professional freelance writer with a number of regular outlets for her work.
She writes travel and food articles for The Times, Condé Nast Traveller magazine, Olive magazine, The Sunday Times, the i, The Guardian and others. She also writes sponsored travel articles for The Telegraph, and for Future Publishing which produces marketing content for international and national travel brands.
As well as writing articles, Sophie ghost-writes blogs, newsletters and other marketing copy for a number of companies. These are travel businesses, hotels, tourist boards, recruitment specialists, architectural practices, interior design brands and lighting companies, among others. Sophie has also taught copy writing courses to business managers.
Her writing career began after an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at Cardiff University. She then worked for Food and Travel Magazine and Condé Nast Traveller before beginning her freelance writing career more than 20 years ago.
She currently lives in Scotland with her family and works from home.
Travel industry marketing specialist
Veronica’s career spans 15 years and includes experience across the media, publishing and travel sectors.
She started her career working for Canada’s largest independent magazine publisher where she was responsible for brand development, public relations, and marketing for numerous award-winning consumer lifestyle titles. Bridging the commercial and editorial sides, her main focus was brand strategy, partnerships, and driving awareness and growth via digital and offline channels.
A travel bug led to a career change and she moved across the pond almost a decade ago to pursue a career in travel. She has since worked for many leading travel brands in the villa, escorted tours, and cruise sectors. She began her travel career with Simpson Travel, a luxury villa and boutique hotel specialist where she was responsible for leading and executing the marketing strategy. During her tenure, the company achieved high year-on-year growth and underwent key structural developments wherein she established the company's marketing function, built a successful marketing department and helped formulate the longer-term business strategy.
She was most recently Head of Marketing at The Travel Corporation, where she managed the UK marketing team with a portfolio covering value and mainstream brands CostSaver and Trafalgar, as well as premium and luxury brands Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, and Uniworld.
Experienced Corporate Travel, Director of Sales & Account Management
Wayne has over 25 years' experience, managing customer accounts while working within the airline and corporate travel management industries.
He studied Strategic Account Management while attending the Sales Directors Programme at Cranfield University, where he had the opportunity to learn from some of the leading thinkers in sales and account management, Lynnette Ryals and Neil Rackham, the creator of SPIN Selling Methodology.
Wayne has experience of managing customers of all shapes and sizes, including successful leadership of global account management programmes for a number of multinational organisations.
Wayne has used his experience to create this training course for individuals looking to move into an account management role or for those looking to enhance their existing account management skills.
Global Customer Resolutions Director
Pamela has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years, for some of the UK's most well-known industry brands such as TUI (Thomson Holidays), Thomas Cook and Expedia.
Her career started with Thomson Holidays, progressing from overseas representative to supervisor, head representative then area manager.
Having lived and worked in more than 15 countries during her career, including Barbados, as area manager for the Caribbean, the Seychelles as head representative for the Indian Ocean, and a Far East area manager position in Thailand, she’s also spent time working and living in Russia, Morocco and Tunisia, and has managed ski seasons in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Until recently, Pamela had been living in Sorrento for ten years, holding an area manager for Italy and Croatia position.
During her career overseas, Pamela’s focus was primarily on quality and customer excellence, achieving a high level of customer satisfaction through her teams being the main objective.
Moving back to the UK, she took up a purchasing manager role, contracting overseas properties around the world. The key focus of this role was relationship building and negotiation with overseas suppliers, however quality and customer satisfaction was at the core of every contract negotiation.
With her career in travel moving into product planning as well as purchasing, so her experience spanned the full cycle of planning, purchasing and operating the customer’s holiday experience within leisure travel.
Moving into the corporate travel sector was a significant change, where Pamela broadened her knowledge of travel. In her time with Expedia Corporate Travel, she was responsible for teams of travel consultants throughout the UK, and the booking of travel for corporate clients including London Stock Exchange, Pepsi and Proctor & Gamble as well as managing the Executive VIP teams and Group/Meetings and Events teams. The corporate travel customer presented different challenges in terms of customer service delivery, yet the principles of customer excellence remained.
With the company restructuring, she moved into a truly global role as director of global customer resolution.
Building a global team of 120 agents in 13 locations, including the Nordics, China, India, Australia, the EU and North America, and covering 25 points of sale, the team handled all global complaints and service failures, and responsible for resolving the customer issues, identifying root cause, analysis, recovering any losses from suppliers and ensuring continuous improvement within the business.
Pamela now splits her time living in the north of England and Menorca, enjoying the sun, sea and natural beauty of the island. She enjoys daily swimming, walking along the Cami de Cavalls, a 180 km ancient coastal bridleway on Menorca, cycling, yoga and immersing herself in Spanish culture.
Social media specialist
Storm kickstarted his career in travel in 2013, as a travel advisor with Pentravel, the number one travel company in South Africa. Becoming an assistant manager, and later progressing to regional training manager, it was in training he flourished, and Storm learnt many different aspects of what goes on behind the scenes of a travel operation, and how much effort it takes to make a company, and its people, successful.
In 2018, Storm and his husband moved to England for six months. Once back in South Africa, he resumed his career with Pentravel, before joining Progressive Travel Recruitment, our sister company, in 2020. At Progressive, he’s responsible for both brands’ social media presence, and brings with him a solid background within training and development.