International Women’s Day: Saluting Tourism’s Leading Ladies – Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Singapore

The fight for gender equality is for everyone, and necessary for economies and communities to thrive. With this in mind, International Women’s Day 2020 galvanises all women to work towards an equal world. In support of this campaign, TTG Asia and TTGmice are featuring women leaders in the travel, tourism and business events industry this week. Today, we speak to Angie Stephen who tells us about her career milestones and personal ambitions.

In all these years, what do you feel are your greatest achievements?
I think the greatest achievement is believing that you can do anything. I started as a sales manager – at the lowest level in the company – and am now a managing director of the South-east Asia and Asia-Pacific market, which is the fastest-growing and biggest opportunity for cruise industry. And I get to be a part of leading that. To me, that is an incredible achievement.

But every year, there’s a new achievement. Looking back at my year-and-a-half in Singapore, we’ve brought in a brand-new ship, Spectrum of the Seas, and we’ve launched Quantum of the Seas, which is the largest ship to sail here. We have announced an extended partnership with Singapore Tourism Board and Changi Airport Group that ensures the continued growth for the company and cruise industry for the region. So that’s another great accomplishment.

What drives you day to day in your professional life?
This industry is very dynamic, so every day usually presents something new and unexpected, such as a new opportunity to interact with different types of people, whether it’s government officials, industry people, consumers who are so excited to be taking their first experience, or a long-time loyal customer who share stories of where he’s been.

What motivates you in terms of your personal growth?
At this stage of my life, career and where I’m at with my family, what is very important is well-rounded well-being. That means good mental health, physical health, eating right and having a great mindset. Keeping the balance of all those things is critically important.

I think at certain stages of your life, it’s all about the career and at another stage, it can be all about the family, but I’m really focused on being able to balance all of those things in a very healthy way.

Who’s in your family now?
Here in Singapore with me are my husband and my three young boys: six, seven and nine. I think that (being) very busy in my personal life also helps me be more successful in my professional life, because I ultimately know how to multitask and make the most of every single second of the day.

How are you using your current position and your business network to improve the lives of the people around you?
At Royal Caribbean, we aspire to give back to the communities that we operate in. Right now, we are taking one of our ships that normally sails in Asia and down to Australia to do a series of charity cruises for the Australian firefighters.

Closer to home here in Singapore, we like to host charity events every year. We partner with organisations that focus on low-income families, the elderly and children. We invite them on board the ship, show them a great time and they get to experience something that maybe they wouldn’t have had a chance to do so before.

A year or so ago, we did an event with some breast cancer survivors where we brought them on board our cruise, and they did a photoshoot for a calendar that was sold to raise funds for breast cancer survivors. They had a great time along the way.

What role did you play in pushing these initiatives?
I always challenge the team to use our platform to give back. We sit together as a leadership team to talk about what the different organisations and opportunities are that we can support to bring (them) happiness or give people an experience that they didn’t think that they could get on their own.

How has the tourism industry shaped up to provide equal opportunities for everyone?
I’ve always felt that the cruise industry is a very welcoming industry for women. I’ve never felt that there was a glass ceiling. I don’t think I ever saw one, and my advice to women who are starting out in their career is to not define yourself by gender. Define yourself by the ideas, skills and experience that you can bring to the table.

In the tourism industry, everyone’s looking for creative problem solvers, innovative ideas and (employees) with a really interesting or strong point of view.

I think the important thing is to go forward in business with confidence and believe that you have some value to bring to the business situation. I think that’s a great starting point for people who are starting out in their career.

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