Hi Olivier, our last guest told us you like horses. Is that correct?
It sure is! Since I was a little boy I’ve liked riding horses. Now I’m an international dressage judge. That way I can combine two of my favorite things in life: horses and traveling.
Speaking of. What’s your fondest travel memory?
I’ll never forget the moment I arrived in New York City for the very first time. I was traveling to a conference in San Francisco in November 1993 and had a stopover in New York. The sensation of awe when I exited the subway at night and looked up in fifth avenue was unbelievable. It felt like I was in a dream.
San Francisco was different. Not so much awe, more love at first sight, you might say. If I could live anywhere in the world, the Bay Area would be my first choice.
Special places. But what makes the travel industry special?
The experience I have gathered over all these years has taught me many things. But let’s get one thing out of the way: IT is IT. That doesn’t change. But the context does. Working in the travel industry is real challenge, because it evolves all the time.
So, as a Product Manager, you must adapt quickly?
Exactly. I’ll give you an example. When I first started out in the travel industry, I was an incentive travel consultant in Brussels. Later, I moved to Cape Town to work for a Destination Management Company. And now I work on the other side of the equator, for Amadeus. Notice how my career has evolved from selling travel to helping others?
Are you working on a fulfilling project now?
Indeed I am. A couple of years ago, Amadeus started to build a complete IT and distribution platform for rail companies. Right now we’re integrating the content distributed by SNCB/NS in Amadeus Rail Display. It’s a very large, cooperative and exciting project, and I’m really happy to be able to contribute to it.
What keeps you ticking Olivier?
Seeing train bookings in Amadeus increase? (laughs) Just kidding, of course. What really motivates me is when we can go beyond the typical customer/provider relationship and form a real partnership. Besides, my life doesn’t start after work, they’re intertwined. I’m lucky to have found that at Amadeus: interesting, stimulating work.
Who would you like to sit in the seat next to you next time, Olivier?
I’d like to sit next to Carol George, our HR Generalist. She looks after all of us, and I really appreciate that.
Care to link up?Find Olivier Smeets on LinkedIn here.