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My travel career: Paul Coates, Hillgate Travel

Paul Coates, training manager, Hillgate TravelWhat was your first job in travel?

An accounts clerk at Thomas Cook. My responsibilities were to reconcile accounts on the transfer of currency between head office and branches and inter-branch.

How did you climb the career ladder?

I was effectively barred from business travel – leisure to business did not match up. The bridge company for me was a flight consolidator. I can now help other people avoid the trap I found myself in.

What does it take to be good at your job?

Enthusiasm and a good sense of humour are paramount, as is a compassionate approach to what we set out to achieve – not everyone will make it and you need to be aware of over-selling the rewards.

What are your challenges at work?

Keeping up to speed with the ever-changing technology and associated work practices. Our courses have to reflect the daily changes a £150 million business travel house has to contend with.

What’s the best part of your job?

Seeing students graduate – I take pride in graduates doing well.

And the worst part?

I have just taken delivery of a purpose-built £250,000 training suite – there’s not a bad part of my job.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?

Learn as much as you can, as you can never know everything.

Paul’s travel CV

  • 1999: Training manager, Hillgate Travel
  • 1997: Senior business consultant, Ayscough Travel
  • 1992: Foreign exchange supervisor, Flightbookers
  • 1984: World travel service consultant, Thomas Cook

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