Dr. Andrea Reid is the Global Education Manager at World Travel Protection, a global travel assistance provider with operation centres in Australia, Canada, Malaysia and China.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m in a new role at World Travel Protection (WTP), which is a travel risk management and medical assistance company, as Global Education Manager. WTP provides travel assistance to a range of clients for both leisure and corporate travel.
My position is responsible for the strategic direction and design and development of organisational learning activities across WTP’s global network, which includes command centres in Brisbane and Toronto, and a centre that will open soon in London.
My background is in higher education and I have a PhD in adult learning, where I researched experiential learning processes in the context of student study abroad experiences.
I have 23 years’ experience in curriculum and learning design across three Queensland universities and I’ve also been a school teacher. My last role before joining WTP was leading the design and development of the new modular online offering of the MBA at the University of Southern Queensland.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My job is to oversee training and development activities for all staff, but at the moment I am focussing on operational staff – case managers and medical staff – as they are key to the success of WTP’s emergency assistance operations.
I’m working with senior staff to ensure our induction training curriculum utilises adult learning principles and provides a clear pathway through the first twelve months in an operational role to ensure our staff are providing the best possible service to our customers.
My other main focus is creation and implementation of a training program for all staff moving onto our new global case management system. I’m working with my training team to design an end-user training program that is relevant to current operations in Australia and Canada.
A typical day for me involves Teams meetings with colleagues in Toronto and face-to-face meetings in Brisbane to progress training and development work.
Most meetings with the Canadian team are held in the morning before I head to the Brisbane Command Centre and continue working on strategizing, planning, and developing learning approaches and ensure these approaches align with adult learning principles.
Observing how staff manage customer calls while in the office shows me how dedicated WTP operational staff are to supporting customers who are often distressed and in need of complex medical assistance.
I try to go for a walk in the middle of the day to recharge. We’re fortunate in Brisbane to have had minimal lockdowns to date and to be able to work in the CBD. I spend the afternoon working on the training strategy for our new case management system then head home.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I like to work in the Brisbane Command Centre as much as possible as being in the office is key to forming good working relationships with the staff. Being in the office as a new staff member has also helped me learn about the industry and how WTP’s travel assistance and risk management work.
However, as my role is global and there is a 14-hour time difference between Brisbane and Toronto, I have to be flexible in the work I do with the Canadian team. I have the ability to work from home, which I very much appreciate.
I am committed to making my role work and to providing training and development support across the WTP network, so I understand the expectation to work flexibly, especially as the Regional Trainer for Canada reports to me.
Until such time as travel resumes and I can visit the Toronto office, I have to connect with Canada via Teams. I am used to working flexibly, coming from higher education, as academia is not a 9-5 culture, and these days this is easier as my children have grown up so I don’t have school and sporting commitments to attend to. I fit the demands of the role into my life and routine with good planning and management of my calendar.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t see the two things as separate, if that makes sense, just as parts of my life. What I do in the professional side of my life matters to me and I enjoy a huge sense of achievement from it.
I think balance is about managing all the demands in your life and deciding for yourself what means the most to you. I also don’t think it’s about how much time you dedicate to your personal life but rather the quality of that time and how you use it.
Spending an hour on a Saturday morning walking the dog or an hour reading a book by one of my favourite authors on a Sunday afternoon – these things are my idea of bliss and they help me recharge and prepare for the week ahead.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have made a major shift in my professional life in the past 12 months by completing my PhD and leaving higher education to move into the corporate world.
This shift has given me back some much-needed down time as I no longer spend all weekend writing my thesis and working on research.
I am a high achiever and love learning and I’ve always been motivated to study (I have five university qualifications), but I am enjoying the switch to the corporate world and the chance to create some separation between work and how I spend my free time.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am a complete book nerd and I am never without a book on the go. I mostly read crime novels or stories that explore human behaviour at its worst. I particularly enjoy British and Scandinavian novels as they are dark and authentic and have cleverly-constructed stories.
My favourite authors are Nicci French, Michael Robotham, and Lisa Gardner among others. I am also a history nerd and enjoy listening to podcasts that take a fresh and interesting look at historical figures and periods. I would recommend the BBC podcasts, Evil genius and You’re dead to me, as they combine humour with history and are a good source of historical knowledge.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Working at WTP has really opened my eyes about travel risk, even though I’ve been fortunate to have travelled quite extensively without incident.
I know that when travel resumes, I will be taking advantage of the new WTP Travel Assist app so I can see country by country what the risks may be, including the status of COVID there and local restrictions, and I can hit the ‘emergency’ button if anything does go awry.
I use WhatsApp to keep in touch with family and friends, at home and when I travel. I’m not a huge social media user but I couldn’t live without Instagram. I use it to keep up to date on things that matter to me.
Instagram has been especially important during the pandemic as I have been able to dream about travelling to places I see on the app and plan future trips. My retirement dream is to renovate and live in an old stone cottage in the South of France and I am using the Duolingo app to improve my French.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Anyone in a senior manager global role where they have to work across challenging time zones!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think that how someone balances the demands of their life is very personal. My work has always been a huge part of my life, and I enjoy taking on new challenges and learning new things.
What I do now is use my free time to pursue research work that I think is important and will contribute to my ongoing professional development, without the pressure of being an academic. I take time to rest and recharge on weekends.
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