Course studied: Tourism, 1995
Position at time of writing: Non-Executive Director, Kier Group PLC
Tell us about your background
I grew up in Northern Ireland, in a family of seven children, and studied Languages at Queen's University Belfast before moving to Strathclyde to do my Diploma in Travel and Tourism. Like a lot of people at that time, after Strathclyde, I went to London to seek my fortune - very well educated but broke!
I began my career in Travel and Aviation at Iberia, the Spanish Airline, and achieved a few “firsts”: First woman, first non-Spaniard and youngest person to ever hold the position of General Manager for the UK and Ireland between 1986 and 96.
Why did you choose Strathclyde?
I chose Strathclyde because the travel and tourism course on offer was just what I was looking for to pursue a career in that industry - very few universities offered it at the time.
Where are you now?
I retired from my full-time executive position in June 2019, and I now have 3 non-executive roles in very different industries. I now divide my time between my home in Kilmacolm and Antibes, where we sail. Prior to retiring from my full-time position, I was Chief Operating Officer at EasyJet, and I enjoyed a long and varied career in Aviation and Travel Retail. Before joining EasyJet some of the roles I held included Managing Director of First Choice Airways, Managing Director of Thomson Airways and COO of all TUI Group airlines.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Becoming the COO of EasyJet was the pinnacle of my career! I'm also very proud of the successful and safe introduction of the brand new technology aircraft - the Boeing 787 - in 2013. We were the first in the UK to fly the aircraft. Another highlight is the successful merger of First Choice and Thomson airways to create TUI Aviation.
As an experienced Aviation industry expert, what are the sector innovations you're most excited about?
The advancement in technology solutions will revolutionise air travel in the future and make it so much more convenient. I also look forward to the improvements that can be made from an environmental standpoint and also, hopefully, an alternative to fossil fuel.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To be able to use the experience I have garnered over the years to help the companies I now work for as a non-executive, and to at long last enjoy some time sailing!
An interesting fact about you
I cut an LP as a teenager, as part of a choir - but I can’t really sing! It was great fun though.