Making a Career Move and the Power of the DLP Alumni Network

Helen Adams, outgoing former Chair of Tourism Society Scotland, describes how the DLP alumni network supported her in a recent career move

I took part in the first Destination Leaders Programme (DLP) Cohort 2014 and completed the DLP while I was preparing to step up as Chair of the Scottish Chapter of The Tourism Society and while I was working full-time as Lothian Buses’ Marketing Manager.

More recently, my husband, Max and I have considered relocating to Geneva. Max grew up in the region and the lifestyle was appealing with the hot summers by the lake and skiing in winter. Having married into a family of linguists (my Father-in-Law speaks seven!) I’ve been working on improving my French in Edinburgh, but I know there is nothing like total immersion in order to improve. For all these reasons, I am sitting in Geneva writing this article, having finally packed my bags and left what Max affectionately refers to as ‘the island’. 

We knew that the job hunt was going to be tougher for me as a non-linguist than it was going to be for Max so I was resigned to the idea of taking a marketing role in any industry that allowed me to work in English. Fortunately, and thanks to the DLP Alumni Network, I have been able to follow my passion and find a job in tourism marketing. I will start as one of two Marketing Managers at Insight Vacations this summer.

My application was something of a DLP team effort that started in 2015 when I was paired up with Cathy Craig, DLP Cohort 2015 for mentoring through Marketing Society Scotland. Cathy encouraged me to think like a marketer about my personal brand and we worked on my CV and personal statement to enable me to stand out in a competitive job market. Cathy also encouraged me to think about how I can break into a new professional network in Geneva. Consequently, my CV has never been so well organised, and I got in touch with fellow Tourism Society members based in Switzerland who offered me helpful advice and insights.

Earlier this year I saw that The Travel Corporation was expanding its marketing team in Geneva for the Insight Vacations brand. Initially I applied for the role of Marketing Content Manager having led various content-led campaigns at Lothian Buses. Lesley Judge, DLP Cohort 2014 kindly reviewed my application as a digital and content marketing specialist and supported me as I collated my marketing portfolio (I had never been asked for one of these before!), highlighting the best examples of my work to date.

Meanwhile, Pete Duncan, DLP Cohort 2014 and Katy Duncan, DLP Cohort 2015, generously informed me regarding life within The Travel Corporation, which their company Radical Travel is also part of. They gave me helpful pointers about who the decision-makers were for the jobs that I was interested in. They also recommended me, which turned out to be one of the key contributors to my success.

While I wasn’t successful for the Marketing Content Manager role, I was invited for interview for a Marketing Manager opportunity a couple of weeks later. The Director of Marketing and Communications remembered that I had been recommended internally (thank you Katy and Pete!), liked what I had to say for myself and the rest is history. Plus, my new boss is Scottish (small world!) and we got on very well. In hindsight, I can see that this second role is a better fit for me.

What have I learned from this experience? That the DLP Alumni Network is incredibly supportive and one that I plan to keep in touch with throughout my career. In addition to the input of Cathy, Lesley, Katy and Pete, Kenneth Wardrop and Dr Jane Ali-Knight, DLP course directors have been very supportive of my plans to relocate and of my Chairing Tourism Society Scotland. While DLP course content equipped me for aspects of my day job and other industry activities which gave me the experience I needed to succeed, my lasting memory of the DLP will always be the strong network of people that it put me in touch with, this “coalition of the willing”, a great group of industry leaders.

As I embark on a new chapter of my life in Geneva I will take heed of this experience and seek opportunities to build up my professional network here, both to develop personally and to support my fellow professionals in their respective career progression. As someone very wise once said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and I can confirm that this saying holds true!