This Woman’s Month, we’re shining the light on the trailblazing women in business who cleared the way for others to carve their own paths. At Thompsons Travel, that trailblazing pioneer is our CEO, Mary Shilleto.
When Mary started out in the tourism industry 45 years ago, there were fewer airlines and routes, and everything was done manually. Having to learn about each intricate operational detail meant Mary worked in almost every area of the travel industry, gaining unrivalled knowledge and experience.
Besides all the places she has visited, the tourism industry has presented Mary with life-changing experiences. “It has taught me to comfortably mix with people of all backgrounds and creeds and learn to respect just how unique and diverse this world is,” said Mary. “It has taken perseverance and courage to take on tasks that terrified me. However, with the good mentorship that I have had in my career, I have been able to tackle it all with passion.”
It is these lessons, and more, which Mary has generously shared over the years to become a mentor to many young women. “I have tried to give back to this industry what this dynamic industry has given to me for my entire working life,” she said. “We do need to support each other as women in workplace as it is very much a balancing act when you work hard, are bringing up a family, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and running a home.”
According to Mary, travel is run by many men, but supported by very many capable and wonderful woman. “I am delighted to see that we have young woman in positions of leadership in both the aviation and travel space who are making significant changes in our industry,” said Mary.
“To have an incredible mentor like Mary inspires you in many ways, through and through – especially in our industry,” said Chantal Kliche, Retail Manager, Cape Region.
As a mentor, it is important for your team to know that you started where they did, made the same mistakes and had the same aspirations. Says Mary: “When you have chosen travel as your career, it will never be a dull journey. But it takes hard work, a willingness to embrace change, and to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.”
And when in doubt, “All one has to do is follow Mary Shilleto’s lead,” says Patricia Kinnear, Thompsons Travel HR Manager.