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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 4:13 AM 

Karen Hardie, VP of global sales for Rocky Mountaineer, named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women

Karen Hardie, VP of global sales for Rocky Mountaineer, named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women
Karen Hardie, vice-president of global sales, Rocky Mountaineer

With an approach to leadership based on inspiring others to reach their full potential, Rocky Mountaineer’s vice-president of global sales Karen Hardie has been named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.

On Nov. 24 during the annual Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Awards Gala, Hardie will receive the honour which recognizes “female leaders who are reshaping the business world, while inspiring and building on the collective impact of their internal networks and teams.” Hardie is currently one of three women on Rocky Mountaineer’s executive team.

“It’s incredible to be put in a cohort of women who are breaking down barriers and being innovative and achieving new heights in business,” Hardie told PAX of the honour.

“Particularly in the travel industry, it feels like it’s predominantly women; it’s a very female-heavy industry and yet that doesn’t necessarily go to the top. This award is a nice way to shine a light on women who are successful in their careers and inspiring other women in the industry to follow in their footsteps.”

Regarding her approach to helping other women achieve their travel industry career goals, Hardie said that mentorship plays an important role both in inspiring the next generation of industry leaders and passing along years of experience and knowledge.

“It’s important to me because I want women to stay in the travel industry and grow and flourish and engage and be successful, and in order to do that, you need to see other women trailblazing in that arena and see that it’s possible,” Hardie said. “One of the most important things we all do is mentorship; when you’re a woman working in any industry, particularly travel, if you can share your experience and knowledge with others and help them see a career path, we’re going to keep all that knowledge and expertise that is coming in with a younger generation. As women mature and have families and look for opportunities to develop professionally, we’re going to keep their skills in the industry.”

With an international career which has spanned across the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Canada, Hardie credits her time spent as a travel agent with helping shape her approach to leadership in the industry.

“When you’re a travel advisor, you’re really building rapport and listening to what it is your customers want and it’s those skills that are very valuable. It’s about being able to truly engage with people and listen to their needs and desires and then be able to provide them with a solution,” she said. “Whether you’re working at a customer-facing role or working your way into management and leadership, it’s those skills which are really critical.”

And contrary to assumptions that career opportunities in the travel industry are shrinking, Hardie sees plenty of opportunity for Millennials, who will not only replace an aging Boomer workforce but will help provide and craft travel experiences for an older generation coming into retirement age.

“The travel industry is growing – don’t believe for a minute it’s not,” Hardie told PAX. “I see increasing investment in the industry, such as private equity firms putting money behind some of the bigger players as they start to invest in better infrastructure and platforms such as technology and databases. As our population as a whole gets older with more disposable income, travel as a meaningful experience is going to become more important. Contrary to the sentiment of five to 10 years ago, that the travel agent was going away, I see more young people – both women and men – and career paths opening up before them, which we wouldn’t have seen previously.”