Stephanie Bishop, Managing Director, Globus Family of Brands says there is always a Plan B
This month’s TRAVELHotNews profile takes a peek into the life and views of Stephanie Bishop, Managing Director, Globus Family of Brands.
Born and raised in a small town in Quebec, Bishop’s mom is Canadian, her father from Barbados. The third of six children, all spanning eight years from the oldest to the youngest, Bishop grew up in a very French environment. She notes loving the hustle and bustle of a European lifestyle, complete with warmth, affection and boisterous conversation.
“I still calculate in French, I dream in French and for the life of me, I can’t do English math,” she quipped.
Although Bishop doesn’t remember much about her childhood, she does recall that she was a very quiet and independent youth who loved Girl Guides and exploring. Starting to work at the age of 13, she recalls her college/university years to be fantastic years in her life.
Travel was not in the plans
Bishop began her travel career early on in life while attending the University of Montreal. Attaining a degree in Urban Planning, Bishop believes that her start in travel was a “fluke.” Like many other kids in high school, she found herself not knowing what she wanted to do as a career. What attracted her to Urban Planning was the diversity.
While on summer break, Bishop began to work at Wardair, first as a reservations agent, then moving to work in inside sales, group sales and then to outside sales, marketing and corporate sales. It took her a few years to realize she had a chance to live her dream, that both sales and marketing are passions of hers.
“It is a fluke I ended up there because that was not part of the plan,” she said. “It goes to show you that you just don’t know. You could have all the best plans laid out, but what do you do if that changes?”
Performs well in a fun, style of environment
Never thinking that she would go to university, Bishop is a firm believer that university helps teach one how to study, how to work projects and the knowledge in that specific specialization. “It teaches you a lot about life. It teaches you a lot about self-discipline, and about goal setting.”
While at Wardair, Bishop recalls never actually working, as she had “the time of my life in that organization.” Having the opportunity to work both in Montreal and Toronto, she soon realized that she performed well in a “fun” environment.
Although she left the travel industry for a short period after Wardair to work at PHH in executive relocation real-estate management, she soon made her way back to travel after speaking with Gordon Waugh of Holiday House, eventually joining his team.
Bishop began to rethink being in a big organization, and decided to move from “a big corporate world to a much smaller intimate family-type of environment,” to where she is now at the Globus Family of Brands.
Likes employees to think outside the box
A boss who likes to encourage the hidden potential in people, says that she prefers working in a team and receiving members input. Valuing individual opinion, Bishop believes that people don’t realize how much they actually have to contribute.
|Stephanie Bishop and the Globus family|
“I like people to think, I like people to come up with ideas, and I do actually enjoy them challenging me and the ideas that we have put forth. I love working with creative people, people that can think outside of the box.”
A self proclaimed non-traditional boss, Bishops stresses that “everyone has lots of potential, and what I like seeing is them developing and growing…I think that at the end of the day people will say that I am very fair, honest and that there is no hidden agenda. You get what you see and that I really want to see people grow to their fullest potential, and most people don’t see what potential they have.”
It’s ok to make mistakes
Over the years Bishop has realized that it is okay to make mistakes, and as long as they are calculated mistakes, she is not afraid of them.
“Am I prepared to take calculated risks? Yes, absolutely. I think that that is part of being [an] entrepreneur. I would rather hear someone say to me ‘you did the wrong thing,’ than someone say to me, ‘You didn’t do a thing.’
Travel survival kit
Armed with an arsenal of music, pictures, good walking shoes, a hat, a raincoat and a digital camera in her travel survival kit, Bishop’s travel ‘bucket list’ spans the globe.
Bishop’s most recent adventure led her to Africa, where she concurred Mount Kilimanjaro. Although this wasn’t her first time to Africa, Bishop noted that she always felt a strong tie with the country.
“I was there (the first time) for three weeks and just could not get enough,” she told TRAVELHotNews. “I had such preconceived ideas about Africa being such an old destination, and I thought people would be so disillusioned with tourists. I arrived there and I was treated like the first visitor they ever saw. It was such an amazing journey.”
Walking helps her reflect
Never one for confrontation, Bishop remembers going for walks as a youth when her siblings would try and engage her in fights.
“I would be in my little world,” she recalled. “I would walk and walk to the shopping centre, and that’s what created my addiction for going shopping. Not that I haven’t resolved that one. I love walking. I think it helps me reflect on the situation and helps put things in perspective.”
Along with her passion for walking Bishop enjoys yoga to give her inner strength, and to help her reconnect with herself and relax. She also loves the outdoors and skiing.
“[When I] come down that slope and I feel the wind on my cheek I just feel so alive. My first passion is travel, then skiing.”
Not great at balancing business and pleasure
According to Bishop, anyone who knows her knows that she is not that great at balancing her business and personal lives.
“I love what I do every day, so that makes it that much more difficult. I’ll always leave the office and do just one more call, but that one more call ends up being an hour, so I am not that great at balancing. I think I have made some great improvements in 2008, and it is something I will continue to improve upon.”
Bishop says that her hyperactive social life helps cut down on her workaholic ways. Out almost every night of the week, either at her sports club or out with friends, she has realized that by the time she goes “through all of our friends it is time to start the cycle over again.”
Not a beach bum
Not much of a beach person, Bishop admits that two hours at the beach and she’s stressed and looking for something to do. Having travelled the Caribbean “inside out”, Bishop notes that, especially for her, a beach vacation is to rest and relax, and it often takes her three to four days to disconnect.
|At the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro|
Her favourite type of travel is what she calls ‘true travel’. Travelling incognito she feels like “Joe Blow walking down the street, and I love that.” As a true local, Bishop believes that she can better connect and interact with people; be one of them and simply blend in.
“I like to be like everyone else and enjoy that location, that destination and the people. I love taking a local bus, local subway and local transportation, because I feel like I can see that destination and that place like everyone else that lives there as opposed to as a tourist.”
You can do anything you put your mind to
Bishop’s philosophy on life is that you can do just about anything you decide you can do. “It is between you and you, and I am a big believer in setting goals.”
Her biggest achievement in 2008 was climbing Kilimanjaro, a task that she notes, “Was not accomplished in a day.”
Other goals for 2009 include speaking Spanish, visiting the Baltics, Northern Canada and Northern Quebec along with Antarctica.
“I have a need to explore and develop,” she said.
But, it is not only travel that is on Bishop’s to do list. Learning how to speak Spanish is also one of her top priorities.
Bishop is grateful to those who she has mentored over the years, and the best advice she recalls, is that you should always have a Plan B.
And, although she doesn’t have a mentor, currently, she admits to having many mentors throughout her career.
“I have been very fortunate to have bosses that were believers in Stephanie Bishop and in what Stephanie was capable of doing.”
The importance of music and books
Growing up with classical music and a love of Marvin Gaye and Motown generation music all around her she confesses that to her, music is more important than a television.
Bishop says that she often finds herself with very little time to read, but tends to gravitate towards e-books and business magazines.
She is so strapped for time that she even admits, “I love to buy books even though I don’t read them, which is real bad habit I have. A book to me is a comfort blanket. I still have all my books from university. I just can’t part with them.”
Bishop and her husband Michael Champagne have been married for the past 22 years. She believes that she knew she had found a “storybook” ideal partner early on in their relationship.
|Stephanie Bishop and husband Michael Champagne at an ice hotel|
While working at Wardair in Montreal, her boss forced her to take a needed trip to Jamaica. While there, Bishop had enough time on her hands to meet her soon-to-be husband, then residing in Toronto.
Michael Champagne, known as “Mitch”, introduced himself to the Montrealer as ‘Michel’ to try and sway her with his minimal French skills, and from that moment they clicked.
She began seeing the him, and within a few months moved to Toronto and a year after they married.
Toronto versus Montreal
Since moving to Toronto, Bishop has experienced a love/hate relationship with the fast-paced city. She finds herself fortunate and loves her home in Oakville, yet is conflicted for her love of the “European flair” and “conversational buzz” she finds in Montreal.
Where I am now
With respect to her career, Bishop has lived through five mergers and acquisitions and reassures TRAVELHotNews that she is sure there will be more to come.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but the travel business is getting smaller and smaller let’s face it, so who knows what will happen tomorrow.”
Since joining the Globus Family of Brands, Bishop feels as though she has arrived at a place in her career where her company’s strong family values and integrity match with those of her own.
“I am in that place where there is that great balance between my personal values and the values of our organization.”
What’s in her future?
According to Bishop, 2009 will be filled with a lot of great things.
“I see a lot of professional growth. I see helping a team really develop their own potential… and I think that that will be one of my biggest goals for 2009. I have already accomplished far more than I could have even dreamed of way back when.
The one thing I am really good at is dreaming, and as long as I can dream I will continue to have a new life."
You cannot interact online; good agents will continue to thrive
As far as the travel industry goes, Bishop clearly states that she sees the benefit of technology, yet maintains that there will always be a place for a good travel agent and brick-and-mortar agencies.
“The good agents will continue to be good and thrive,” Bishop explained. “On the computer you can go and do a transaction and that’s it. Travel is all about memories and journeys, and every journey tells a story. You want to speak to someone who has the inside scoop, and that is what travel is all about. It is about the knowledge and the experiences and the recommendations that a professional travel agent can give…Yes there are interactive programs out there, but we are much more than a transaction.”
A specialization trend
According to Bishop, there is “there is no doubt about” it that there is a trend of specialization emerging in the industry.
Whether an agent specializes in cruising or family travel, Bishop believes that specializing in a particular segment of the market will give an individual travel agent that much more strength in the travel industry.
“I definitely think that that is key in securing your sustainability as an agent, and having the flexibility,” she said. “Looking at 2009 I think that more than ever, the good agents are going to make it. With today’s technology there are so many ways of touching your customers.”
The more you know about Stephanie Bishop:
THN.com: What is the best advice you ever received?
SB: There is always a Plan B. “You never know how things are going to go. You can have the best plans and it can fall apart at the last minute.”
|Stephanie Bishop and best friend Lorraine Lanthier|
THN.com: If you had one wish, what would it be?
SB: To find a cure for ALS. My very best friend has ALS and she is on her last journey.
THN.com: If you could meet someone dead or alive who would it be and what would you ask them?
SB: Alive - Nelson Mandela, “What truly kept you going?”
Dead - My dad’s parents, just to know more about their amazing story
THN.com: How often do you travel?
SB: This past year I have travelled up to 50 per cent of my time
THN.com: What’s on your bucket list for 2009 (other than travel)?
SB: To do more charitable work and try to help more young people come into the travel industry
THN.com: What would you have done differently?
SB: I ask myself that question on a regular basis, and I really, good or bad love my life. I have lived my dream everyday.
THN.com: What would you like to be remembered for?
SB: I would like to be remembered for being a true person: a real person, honest, with integrity, fair and a person that cared about people. That is most important.
THN.com: What is the weirdest thing you ever ate?
SB: 1. Breakfast in Bangkok (“I know there was an egg in there”). 2. A restaurant called Carnivores in Africa that served all kinds of wild game, “from Zebra to Ostrich to Alligator, the whole nine yards” and 3. My dad’s Caribbean fish soup. “You would have the eyes looking at you. I love fish, but as a kid growing up looking at a bowl with two eyes of a fish looking at you, that was really not appetizing.”
THN.com: If you weren’t in travel, what would you be doing?
SB: Event planning. “I nearly started that business many years ago with a former Ward Air colleague of mine, and it was just bad timing. I love organizing events. To me that is all like organizing a party.”
TRAVELHotNews.com would like to thank Stephanie Bishop for her time and cooperation for this interview.