Interview with Julia Feuell, Managing director of Online Travel Training and New Frontiers

Interview with Julia Feuell, Managing director of Online Travel Training and New Frontiers

With 2014 almost behind us and 2015 beckoning this is a time for planning and for turning your ideas into reality! So what better way to gain some insights but an interview with successful travel entrepreneur Julia Feuell.  Herebelow she discusses entrepreneurship, life and being a woman in business with Alessandra Alonso. Enjoy!  

Alessandra Alonso – When did you decide that you wanted to be your own boss and why?

Julia Feuell – I ran 4 branches for another travel recruitment company in the late 80s, which was great grounding experience. A fellow work colleague ran another division of the company and persuaded me to join her to create a better and more dynamic business together, which we did in 1991.

AA – Which quality/ies do you think are most important for a women entrepreneur in order to be successful?

JF – Any entrepreneur, male or female, needs to be confident and determined on top of having a strong commercial acumen for business and a great idea or differentiating way of doing business.

AA – Which is the biggest obstacle/s you have encountered and how did you go about overcoming it/them?

JF – Having been in business since 1991, there have been many obstacles along the way. The hardest to handle are the ones you can’t plan for and can happen suddenly – two Gulf wars, SARs disruption, September 11th terrorism, worldwide recession we’re just coming out of… With every external factor impacting on the business, I have tried to act decisively and proactively and find as many experts as I can to help support the business during these times.

AA – With OTT you have clearly entered a space (technology) that is mostly male dominated. How has this impacted you and your business, whether positively or not?

JF – OTT is very balanced in staffing in terms of male/ female ratio and obviously our clients are too. I have two male investors for OTT- one with a private equity background (with very sharp business acumen) and one with technology (a successful tech entrepreneur). Our technology partners who develop OTT’s powerful and soon to be global platform are mostly male and very dedicated to their work. Small talk doesn’t really exist. Attention to detail is all that matters. This takes a bit of getting used to!

AA – What would you say to a young female ‘wannabe’ entrepreneur?

JF – Talk to other entrepreneurs – male or female and see if you can find a mentor. Network with as many business professionals as possible so you can tap into an ‘expert’ network when you need help. Failure to plan means you’ll plan to fail, so consider every detail about your business idea to ensure it has the best chance of success. Then muster loads of confidence and determination and go for it!

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Alessandra is founder of social enterprise Women in Travel CIC which she launched in January 2017 to provide communities in key regions (for example UK, Middle East, Africa and Latin America) with a sustainable livelihood by enabling women to become economically independent through entrepreneurship and a thriving career in the travel and tourism industry. Alessandra is also Chief Mentor & Consultant at Everyday Mentor, where she provides mentoring, coaching and consulting services to a range of clients in the commercial and public sector. Alessandra also collaborates with a number of Universities, including Hertfordshire, Normandy and Surrey. Alessandra is passionate about gender in tourism and has written and spoken extensively on the subject over the last 12 years, including at the United Nations World Tourism Day. She is well known as co-founder of Shine People and Places – a boutique outfit dedicate to supporting women in the workplace - and The Shine Awards for Women Achievements in Travel Tourism Hospitality and Events, which she ran between 2004 and 2010 before Sector Skills Council People 1st took them over. Prior to Shine Alessandra worked at KPMG, where she built the Travel & Tourism division, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. Alessandra has an executive MBA from the University of Ediburgh/Grande Ecole Pons combined; she is a qualified coach/mentor for performance in the workplace and she is a member of several industry bodies including AWTE and the UK Tourism Society.

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