Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Orlando, Florida, and raised outside of Philadelphia, PA. My family travelled abroad extensively. My mother is French and growing up, we spent summers in France, as well as traveling to other countries.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
I caught the travel bug at a very young age, and because of that, I always wanted to work in travel. My dream job was to be flight attendant. Little did I know that the airline had a rigid height requirement, and I wasn’t tall enough!
How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
I’ve been fortunate to have had many mentors who gave me the opportunity to grow and broaden my skills beyond my own perceived limits. Most importantly, my family has supported me every step of the way.
I started my career as a travel agent and rose through the ranks to become CEO of Maritz Travel Company, then CEO of the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) before taking my current role as President of Carnival Cruise Line.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Becoming President of Carnival Cruise Line in 2015 has been the pinnacle of my career. Starting out as a travel agent and now leading an organization with 40,000 employees from more than 60 countries allows me to serve as a role model to the men and women who inspire me every day by their passion and care for our guests.
What’s your secret for success?
Figure out your passion and go after it. For me, it was always travel. The other thing is to be willing to get out of your comfort zone, which clearly I have done many times because every time I was offered a great opportunity, my immediate reaction was: “Are you talking to me?” Focus on the journey, but stay open to what becomes available to you.
Who are the mentors that stand out to you the most?
When I was involved in corporate meetings and convention planning and served on a number of industry boards, I quickly noticed that there were very few women that served on those boards or really, few women who were in senior level positions at the time—whether you looked at hotel, cruise or airline. There were many women entrepreneurs, but not many women in senior level roles at organizations.
Since then, there have been many women in the cruise industry who have paved the way for others, including my colleagues at Carnival sister brands: Ann Sherry, Chairwoman of, Carnival Australia; Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruise Line; and Cunard’s Captain Inger Klein Olsen who made history in 2010 when she became the line’s first female captain.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I believe every business is a “people business,” where you take your employees into account. I believe taking care of our employees is what enables us to serve our guests in a way that we can exceed our expectations. I’m proud of the fact that our employees refer to their colleagues and our company as their “Carnival Family.” We proactively focus on investing in the things that matter and foster an environment of empathy, diversity and caring.
What is one thing that not many people know about you that may be surprising?
I have dual citizenship in France and speak French fluently.
How do you disconnect/what do you do for fun?
My job keeps me quite busy and I continue to travel frequently both for work and for fun. It’s challenging to find time for a hobby, but I spend any free time that I have with my family.