Meet Karen Magee, founder of Young Travel Professionals:
Dreamer, motivator, hotelier, networking master; these are just a few words I would use to describe myself. My thirst for adventure and building relationships led me into the hospitality and travel industry and I was immediately hooked! I’ve been fortunate to hold positions with FROSCH Travel, Ultramar Travel and am now a Director with The Doyle Collection. Looking back to my college self, I would have never summoned visions of this career path or its ability to exceed what were my early assumptions of how work/life would play out. With this in mind, I co-founded a networking group called Young Travel Professionals which quickly became the brand for promoting careers in the travel industry. I now get to spend my time promoting a job in an industry that I love and look for every opportunity to motivate others to do the same in their own meaningful capacity.
What made you start Young Travel Professionals?
The origination of YTP was really quite organic, as the best things in life tend to be. After falling unintentionally into travel and realizing how few people were exposed to this amazing industry, some colleagues of mine started organizing casual meet and greets. To our surprise we were filling a massive need in our industry and the rest is history. In a lot of ways, the hours we put into YTP is a means to give back to an industry that caught most of us by surprise. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled onto this career path and I feel a bit responsible for continuing to promote, improve, and empower it by strengthening our younger networks and bringing in talented individuals.
What do you see as challenges for young women in the work world?
External perception is our biggest enemy. We’ve come a long way but there will always be a stronger presence of pressure and guilt for women, whether our decision is to work and have kids, stay home with the kids, or not have kids at all. There’s an assumption that if your family is home and you are a female that is working late, you’re doing a disservice to them. Place a man in this scenario and the perception is that you’re hard working and providing for your family. We aren’t awarded the same gravitas when we put in time away from home.
One anecdote on this that I shared at the recent Women in Travel Summit was a story from when I returned home from my honeymoon. After getting married recently, I discussed the next steps in my career with a male senior executive in our industry. While I don’t believe it was ill intentioned, he said something along the lines of how I should take into account the “fact” that I’ll probably want to start slowing down and “domesticating” a bit. Now, I completely agree and understand the desire to want to create a more flexible situation if you plan on having children, but I found that to be an offensive statement. No one would ever say that to my husband. In fact, I believe after getting married his personal perception is greater, because he’s now “a more responsible married man” where mine is now “most likely not going to be doing this for much longer”.
Bottom line, as long as we’re doing what’s right by ourselves and our families we shouldn’t let anyone judge or make us feel guilty over how we spend our time.
What makes you feel not confident? What makes you feel confident?
I feed off of positive energy, I always have. This could be a product of having extremely supportive parents my entire life that would perpetually sing my praises when I was doing well at something. On the other side of that coin, I’m also fortunate that they were also right there to tell me when I was wrong and provide constructive criticism. In desiring this feedback, I think I’ve created a really amazing network of people around me, both professionally and personally, who inspire, empower, and drive me to do more. Knowing they have my back gives me all of the confidence I need. On the flip side, I respond strongly to negative energy as well and that’s where my confidence will always wane. I don’t think it’s productive for anyone to dwell in environments of non-collaboration & negativity. Call this an idealist view of life, which it very well may be, but I believe we get confidence from others which is why company culture is so critical to success.
When you think of “Fit to Lead” what do you picture?
I think it takes a lot to be a good leader but some of the most important attributes are passion, transparency, engagement, and level headedness. All things considered, I would say passion has to be at the very top. If you keep that at the forefront of your decision making (in both daily life and career), I believe leadership will come easily. Passion for what you’re doing creates an inherent drive that people enjoy following and suppoting.
What is something fun and non-interviewy about you?
In my next life I want to come back as a dog. If my post retirement goes as planned you’ll find me with my own dog shelter where I can spend 24 hours a day hanging out with furry friends.
Connect with Me!!
@NYCTravelBug – Twitter & Linked In
@YTP_Worldwide – Twitter
@YoungTravelProfessionals – Instagram