We’re celebrating International Women’s Day here at TD and there’s no better way to celebrate than featuring women at the top of their game. In this exclusive interview, we caught up with Debbie Goffin, director of sales and marketing at Premier Holidays, to get her thoughts on the power of women and how it affects the future of the industry.
Could you tell us more about Premier’s board expansion?
Premier Holidays expanded its board of directors just under 18 months ago to safeguard the future of the wholly independent tour operator. The company promoted four managers to its senior leadership team as directors, responsible for overseeing different areas. I became a director in December 2017 and head up Premier’s sales and marketing team.
Three of the four new directors are women who have worked at Premier for many years, working their way to the top. Women outnumber men four to three on the company’s board.
How do you think having more women across the board would affect the company?
Women have been well represented on Premier Holidays’ board for the last 10 years, so the expansion hasn’t brought about a seismic change. However, having new women on the board and a greater number of directors overall has brought about plenty of fresh ideas and we have a different perspective on things, which obviously benefits all our employees and clients.
What would be your focus in your new role?
Establishing a set of strong core values that we adhere to, and making sure all our staff are on board the same journey. I’ve helped implement a raft of exciting new initiatives over the last few months including the launch of a ‘directors’ lunch’, where staff from across the company can chat to Premier’s directors at an informal level and enjoy lunch on us!
“Big enough to depend on but small enough to care”
This year, we are in the process of reviewing and updating our purpose, values and mission, and getting all staff involved to help shape the direction of the company for the future. We really want everybody to embrace being part of the Premier family; we’re big enough to depend on but small enough to care.
What do you think are the stereotypes and challenges women face in the workplace?
There has been a massive shift in attitudes towards women in the workplace over the last 25 years. When I first started out on the career ladder, I felt I had to behave like a man in order to succeed. I definitely don’t feel this way anymore and I don’t think the travel industry as a whole does either. We have many fantastic role models in travel and that has really helped change people’s perceptions.
“I felt I had to behave like a man in order to succeed”
However, women still face a number of challenges from society as a whole. The biggest of these relates largely to families and children, and the fact that the bulk of child-rearing, childcare and running a household lies with the woman. Modern women have to juggle family priorities with managing a successful career, which can be difficult at times. How many schools contact the father first when a child is ill?
Any advice on how to overcome them?
It’s important to have an honest and open dialogue with your employer about flexible working. At Premier, we are proud to offer flexible working for staff with other commitments and have some fantastic examples of how this can be very effective for both employee and employer, such as offering homeworking opportunities and part-time roles.
How do you celebrate International Women’s Day?
How I celebrate most things – with a gin and tonic! In all seriousness, I will be making sure my 11-year-old daughter – as well as her 15-year-old brother – understand the significance of why we celebrate International Women’s Day and the importance of a gender-balanced world.
We have come a long way but there’s still much to achieve, and we need to instil this in the younger generation. I thoroughly believe that we all have a responsibility to empower our daughters and educate our sons – they are the future after all.