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Meet 40 inspiring Intrepid women and allies

written by Intrepid Travel March 5, 2021
40 women's faces collage

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’.

So, to honour that, we want to celebrate some of the incredible women and allies who work at Intrepid, challenging stereotypes and the status quo. These team members work in all corners of the globe – across different roles and offices, at all levels and who do incredible work to champion women and support gender equality.   

We asked Intrepid staff from around the world to nominate a female colleague or ally who has shone throughout the pandemic by showing leadership or innovation, advocating for gender equality, taking on additional work, studies or family responsibilities or supporting other women.

In no particular order, here are some of Intrepid’s best and brightest this International Women’s Day. 

1. Aye Mya Mya Soe – General Manager, Indonesia 
For her leadership and strength 
“Aye is an amazing example of strength, courage and determination. She demonstrates great leadership and has mentored others to follow in her footsteps.” 

2. Yvette Thompson – Sales, Australia 
For being an inspirational role model 
By far this woman is the best manager I have ever had! Despite not working for her in almost a year, she continues to inspire me every day and is my favourite role model.” 

3. Yin Minn Htwe –  Purchasing, Myanmar 
For supporting and training others 
“Yin MinThwe has led the team during COVID-19 and given her time to train and assist staff in other parts of Asia. She has also done a lot of volunteering to help set up learning and best practice curriculum standards at local tourism colleges.” 

4. Zina Bencheikh – Managing Director EMEA 
For trailblazing and inspiring others 
Zina is flying the flag for gender equality, purpose and social and environmental causes. She continued to take up public speaking opportunities throughout COVID-19 and is an amazing role model for women, showing what is possible if you put your love and energy into it.” 

5. Cassandra Harvey – Sales, North America 
For bringing positivity and support 
Cass has always been an amazing leader, but she really set the bar high through this crisis. She has also had a rough year personally with health issues in her family, but she is always there for her team. She is a super woman in my eyes.” 

6Caitlin Lutton – Customer Service, Australia 
For taking the opportunity to teach others 
During the pandemic, Caitlin commenced studying to become a teacher. It’s clear she will be incredible, as the recent training she facilitated was informative, engaging and fun!” 

7. Zinzi Bobani – Finance, South Africa  
For stepping up to care for people around her

Zinzi

“When we were unable to apply for government support for staff, Zinzi spent hours trying to find a way to get us access. She has gone out of her way to help out the team, personally helping out a seriously ill team member. COVID-19 has hit close to home amongst her family and friends, and I know that she was a rock for them all.”   

8. Cara Toovey – Sales, Australia  
For her ability to bring people together 
Cara is the unifying figure organising social events online and leading by example, while she cared for her two girls as a single mother. There were times when you could see that the strain of 2020 was taking a toll on her as well, but she never lost her cheerfulness, her love of our team and her ability to keep on going.” 

9. Fernando Rodriguez – Operations, Peru  
For his leadership and passion 
Fernando is very passionate about all equality issues, including gender equality. He has always put huge amounts of effort into supporting our female leaders, guides and staff throughout the region and his leadership helped us achieve our goal of doubling the number of female leaders in our region well ahead of time. He’s a unique example of a male who is constantly empowering and supporting women in what is a very patriarchal Latino culture.” 

10. Celia Brennan – Operations, Australia 
For her resourcefulness and care 
She has been instrumental in putting together our Covid-19 policies and making sure that all our trips and travellers are safe. Meanwhile, she’s been juggling home schooling for her two young children.” 

11. Wan-Chiwan Suwannapak – Operations, Thailand 
For keeping staff under her care engaged and informed 
“Wan has had to manage the stress of Covid on reduced hours while working from home and also delivering home schooling to her two daughters. She’s ensured that leaders under her care are kept engaged and informed. Wan also managed to find time to attend and pass a new hospitality and tourism-based course in SE Asia and be one of the first to do so.” 

12. Chrystal Daniel – Customer Experience, Australia 
For taking new challenges in her stride 

Chrystal and her daughter

Chrystal has returned to full-time work from maternity leave in the middle of a pandemic and is adjusting to pandemic work-from-home life, being a mum, and being promoted to a manager all at the same time. It’s truly inspiring to see Chrystal be amazing at all three.” 

13. Ngoc Vu – Finance, Vietnam 
For encouraging focus and innovation 
Ngoc is an amazing quiet achiever. In 2020 Ngoc stepped up and has been instrumental in guiding the business, encouraging the much smaller team to stay focused and be innovative. She is a superstar not often recognised outside of her own office.”  

14. Erica Kritikides – Product, Australia  
For being a truly empathic manager 
As a single mother, I felt pressure all around in the pandemic. For most of 2020, I home-schooled my child and worked reduced hours. Erica understood my situation – as a mother first, then as a manager. While she has advocated for working parents for a long time, she really shone during this pandemic. She ensured my name was put on the table for any projects and she encouraged me to take time off to look after me.”  

15. Joanna Reeve – Business Development, UK 
For taking on new responsibilities 
Jo is a real Intrepid powerhouse, very determined to achieve the impossible for her team and for herself. She took on new responsibilities during COVID-19 and has risen above and beyond anyone’s expectations.” 

16Erin Shand – Customer Experience, Australia 
For going above and beyond her role 
During COVID-19 Erin offered her services to fill gaps in addition to completing her duties within her own role. Her innovative ideas have formed an integral part of the 2021 strategy, and I could not have achieved the results we have had as a team, without her.” 

17Katie Breen – Marketing, Australia 
For her strong sense of what is right 
Not only was Katie a huge support for our team during a really tough year, but she put her hand up for several extra projects. And through her involvement in the RAP committee and her own personal interest, she worked to educate herself and our team around Black Lives Matter.” 

18. Rama Mahendru – General Manager, India 
For always doing what is best for her team 

Rama

Rama has earned the respect of the India team, leading them through the crisis while dealing with personal issues, as her son had just started university in Australia and is stuck there because of COVID-19. She is always looking to do what is best for the company and her staff.” 

19. Katie Dance – Technology Services, Australia 
For getting stuff done with a positive attitude 
In March last year she got an extra four people in her team and supported us as well as her original team. She also completed her master’s and juggled having a toddler at home and being pregnant – and she still doesn’t seek out the limelight!” 

20. Leah Johnson – Sales, New Zealand 
For supporting others no matter what 
“For always being there for people in our team, no matter where in New Zealand or Australia they were based.” 

21Lucy Siebert – Communications, Australia 
For stepping up and going above and beyond 
“Lucy is an exceptional individual. She joined the Intrepid team not long before the pandemic hit and has been a steady rock throughout. To lead the corporate communications for an international travel company during a global pandemic is not an easy feat! She has done all of this while being on the other side of the world to her family and while COVID-19 hit her home in South Africa hard.” 

22. Song Nongchanun – People team, Thailand 
For making improvements for the future 
Song has been a significant support to her region throughout the pandemic, assisting conversations and keeping track of changing work requirements. She has also used the time to proactively identify areas for improvement for the future.” 

23Marie Swanson – Marketing, Australia 
For showing care and compassion to those around her 
“Despite working reduced hours, she still took the time to check in with me every so often and encouraged me to back myself in certain challenging situations.” 

24. Maritza Chacacanta – Operations, Peru 
For supporting the local communities impacted by COVID-19 

Maritza

“Most of the people Maritza works with are porters on Inca trail who had to go back to their farms when the pandemic hit. She never lost contact with the communities and then worked on Christmas Eve, travelling around the countryside of the Andes to make sure every one of them and their families had their food parcels from The Intrepid Foundation.”  

25. Michelle Ouw – Sales, Australia 
For creating clarity in a time of uncertainty 
Michelle did an amazing job at being available to support the team. Despite being stretched for time and there being so much uncertainty in our industry, Michelle was there to work with us to create some clarity around ever-changing processes.” 

26. Miranda Raciti – Customer ServiceAustralia 
For approaching everything with a level head 
Miranda has been so consistent in her attitude and support through the pandemic. She has led one of the hardest parts of the business in ensuring our customers are happy and being looked after. She always approaches things with a level head, no matter the topic and is a strong and confident communicator.” 

27. Natalie Placko – Brand, Australia 
For always having time for everyone 
“Nat has been the best role model and support for so many people – especially the marketers, who are nearly all women themselves. She has a knack for making you feel better when you are struggling, she is genuine, empowering and positive. No matter how stressful Nat’s job has been, she always has time for everyone and will take time out of her busy schedule to chat to you.” 

28. Soledad Moncayo – Reservations, Ecuador 
For being a strong female voice and leader 
A tireless worker who always makes herself available to the rest of the team, including areas that are not technically in her remit. She has been a strong female voice and leader within the Ecuador team for many years.” 

29. Robyn Nixon – Special Projects, Australia 
For bringing people together 
Robyn has been a pillar of strength over the last 12 months, moving to the UK to lead the charge on bringing the team back together and succeeding. She was a key member of the local travel revolution at Intrepid from day one and has now taken this project by the horns.” 

30. Sachini Gunatilake – Product, Sri Lanka 
For being an encouraging leader 
Sachini has great leadership skills, she is always helpful to all the team members and wants to see the team grow as well as the team members grow. She is such an understanding person when it comes to any situation.” 

31. Sarah Clark – Managing Director APAC 
For promoting our purpose in an engaging way 

Sarah

In 2020 she joined the core management team, led the local travel project, does awesome monthly updates showing us of her home island Tasmania, and promotes our purpose in an engaging and informative way. Plus, she’s super approachable and responsive.” 

32. Alana Plucinski – Customer Service, Australia 
For being a supportive manager 
She has been a massive support to the team and takes on a lot of different tasks. She keeps us updated and is often someone we go to for support, whether professional or personal.” 

33. Wye Wong – Leader, Malaysia 
For finding ways to support her local community 
Wye Wong applied for a grant for a community garden project that she was working on during COVID-19. She was successful in getting the funding and the local community now has a rainwater harvester at the community garden.” 

34. Natalie Scales – Customer Service, Australia 
For looking for ways to improve our customers’ experience 
Nat is always proactively looking for ways to continually improve processes to ensure our customers get the best possible experience from Intrepid, but also looks for ways to ensure our processes don’t create unnecessary work for our team.” 

35. Brett Mitchell – Chief Sales Officer 
For being such a supportive, trusting and empowering manager  
“I don’t know if I would have given this job to myself, but you did! I’m so pleased of what we’ve achieved so far and really looking to the post-pandemic success we will be driving together.” 

36. Natalie Kidd – Chief People and Purpose Officer  
For her honesty and advice 

Nat
Natalie

She is the calm force behind many of our successes. She drives people to shine, is an amazing listener and her advice is always on point. She isn’t scared of telling the truth, even if the truth can hurt as that’s what makes us improve and become better managers and people.” 

37. Susanne Etti – Purpose teamAustralia 
For working tirelessly to help the planet 
Susanne has worked tirelessly through the last year on our climate response. She has been creating toolkits for external publication, doing countless webinars at all times of the day and night and represented Intrepid on numerous climate focused action groups.” 

38. Claire Fitzgerald – Sales, Australia  
For her unwavering support to her team 
For showing up, holding space and supporting others through the COVID-19 storm in all corners of Australia and New Zealand.” 

39 + 40. Abbe Lunn and Mandy Alderson – Sales, Australia  
For supporting those less fortunate than themselves 
They both made the time to train for the Blue Dragon Marathon through The Intrepid Foundation. Together they raised over $600, which is a great feat during a pandemic. These women approach everything they do with an amazing positive attitude and infectious energy and they are an inspiration to many.” 

Learn more about Intrepid’s approach to gender equality

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