June 15, 2024

Top of the class

As part of our Business Travel Ambassadors campaign, Lynne Griffiths, CEO of Sirius Talent Solutions, volunteered to go back to her old school and chat to the students about a career in the sector

How did the visit come about?

So, as a Business Travel Ambassador, we were encouraged to make contact and forge relationships with our local schools and colleges. I wrote to my old secondary school – Newlands Girls School in Maidenhead – and asked if they would like me to share careers advice with their students. They immediately replied and asked me to come and chat to some of their year 11 pupils, in their GSCE year.

How did it feel going back to your old school?

When I walked through the door it was emotional and I was also quite nervous. It took me right back to that time, especially when I went into my old form rooms and walked past the head mistress’s door – where I’d been sent a few times!

What did you say to the students?

I started by telling them my own story. I explained that like many teenagers I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I went to my school careers officer for advice, and she told me about two jobs – one with a bank and the other with a travel agent. The travel agent was paying £5 more a week, so that’s the one I chose! If it hadn’t been for the careers officer, I wouldn’t have even considered working in travel.

Did the students have any knowledge of the business travel industry?

They had absolutely no understanding. For them the travel industry was just about booking holidays or being cabin crew. They didn’t know anything about travel management companies or the role of a travel manager. With my experience at TAG, I told them about how TMCs help arrange tours for musicians and bands, for film crews and sportspeople. The girls wanted to know if I’d organised any tours for Taylor Swift! I wanted to bring the industry alive and make it more relatable to what they are interested in, rather than it just being about businessmen in suits.

What else did you say to make them consider a career in business travel?

I explained to them about the skills they could learn by working in business travel, such as customer services, account management, technology and accountancy. I told them it’s not just about being a consultant and organising the travel. I also talked about how people can move across into different sectors of the industry – airlines, car rental companies, technology – to show them the opportunities.

And, of course, I told them about all the amazing places I’ve been to during my career and that when I was 16 I never imagined having a job where I would get to see so many amazing places and travel so extensively – South Africa, Mauritius, Australia, Peru, Brazil, New York. And also, that I was lucky enough to have flown on Concorde.

What do you think the industry needs to do to attract more young talent?

I think there needs to be more work experience or apprentice opportunities. It’s not a widely known industry and it’s not a big part of travel and tourism courses. I would encourage any companies who have offices close to a school, college or university to engage with them and offer work experience placements.

Will you go back to the school again?

Yes, definitely. I felt really elated that I might have encouraged some of the girls to join the industry. I received an email from the teacher afterwards saying the girls really enjoyed it and asking if I would go back and I said ‘yes’.