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Read the inspiring speech shared for a recent ITC graduation by an industry leader

Posted on 13/04/2022 by

Haka Tours General Manager Eve Lawrence recently gave an excellent speech at an ITC graduation.

Eve Lawrence is the General Manager for Haka Tourism Group, where she runs Haka Tours, NZ Snow Tours, and ANZ Nature Tours. Naturally, she is an incredible role model for anyone aspiring to work in the tourism industry.

She recently shared the speech she wrote for our graduates.

With her permission, we are sharing some of the highlights of her speech, so you can enjoy her pearls of wisdom about tourism, travel, and making a career out of something you love!

Eve’s graduation speech for ITC

Firstly I would like to congratulate each and every one of you for successfully completing your NZQA level 4 and 5 diplomas in Tourism & Travel Management.

I know from personal experience just how tough these last 2 years have been, not only for myself, but for each and every team member, employee and business leader in the tourism ecosystem. Leaders today are leading in a world moving through crisis and disruption—where challenges have no known solutions, and where there are solutions, there are far too many pathways and very few clear ones.

Much like the grieving process, the covid process has come with stages.

Stage 1 – Disbelief

  • Disbelief that global travel could shut down
  • Disbelief that our revenue could go from 21 Million to ZERO overnight
  • Disbelief, that the whānau many businesses had built had to be dismantled to keep the business alive
  • Disbelief that we weren’t able to see family members or friends
  • And most of all, disbelief that we couldn’t be with sick or dying loved ones in their hours of need

Stage 2 – Denial

  • Denial that lockdown would last very long
  • Denial that we had to let go of some of our whanau permanently
  • And for some denial, particularly from New Zealand, that covid was even happening

Stage 3 – Acceptance & realisation

  • The realisation that covid was here to stay
  • The realisation that we weren’t going to get our whānau back quickly and that we were going to be operating, as a business on near to zero revenue for potentially months to come
  • And the realisation from team members and employees in the industry that they may lose their jobs in the coming weeks and months

Which spurs on and leads to…

Stage 4 – The hustle

For a business, this is perhaps the most important phase in any journey of resilience, and certainly the stage that separates those who lead from those who follow.

This is the stage that has ensured the survival of our business. Working together as a leadership team, we ensured the survival of Haka Tourism Group, in the same way many others have secured the survival of their businesses for the future.

Ryan, our founding director, sold 3 accommodation properties, leased another property to the govt as a Māori wahine refuge, and also found a new majority shareholder for our Touring Brands. I focused on our environmental and community partnerships and built a range of new active products with our Aussie partners Intrepid to try and target the domestic market just to keep our touring brands in the black.

These things combined have ensured the survival of all our Haka Tourism Group businesses.

Which leads me to…

Stage 5 – The rebuild

Now it may not seem so to you now, but I can assure you that you will be joining the tourism and travel industry at possibly one of the most exciting times in history. Never has there been a better time to consider a career in travel and put all the skills and knowledge you’ve developed during your education to good use.

There are a few things I would urge you to consider whilst embarking on your journey into our sector moving forward.

As an industry we are working harder than ever to become more regenerative, work more effectively with our communities and really engage our manuhiri in our Maori culture. Upskill yourselves on environmental initiatives, our Maori history and what tourism businesses are doing to contribute in these areas.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. This is something industry leaders don’t do enough.

Collaboration divides the task, but multiplies the successes, and going forward, people who can think through problems and who are collaborative are more important than ever.

For decades the business landscape had rewarded leaders who delivered exceptional short-term performance within their role and parameters. And for decades, the traditional business adage was that economic and social value could not be maximised at the same time.

But this current climate has underscored one resounding truth: we can no longer operate in an either/or world. We are leaders of ecosystems, and leadership is no longer confined by boundaries.

Organisations will need agile Enterprise Leaders — executives who know how and when to perform and transform in today’s complex world, not just in their own business vertical, but horizontally, across the broader business and industry ecosystem, people who value creativity, transformation & those who are adaptive. You need the capability to not only THINK, but to execute.

I strongly encourage you to think like Enterprise Leaders and to do this you need to consider these key questions:

  • What kind of societal needs does your business intend to meet?
  • What impact does your business desire to generate?
  • Who will you partner and collaborate with?
  • What is your purpose? What holds our ecosystem / sector together?
  • How does the business position itself within the ecosystem?
  • How are values created and shared amongst the ecosystem?

Our industry is going to need young, fresh talent now more than ever. So break the boundaries, think differently and express your opinions, because you deserve to be heard.

As you move forward through your careers, If you remember one thing from this speech, remember this; Leadership is an action, not a position.

Become part of the industry

Now it may not seem so to you now, but I can assure you that you will be joining the tourism and travel industry at possibly one of the most exciting times in history.”

If Eve’s words make you feel like now is that time to join the industry, it’s because it is!

You can start studying any of our five incredible course options anytime with Study From Home. Check out our course options here.

Enrol now or get in touch to find out more!

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