Tomorrow's Travel Leaders: 30 Under 30: Charlotte Black
In collaboration with TTG Digital, the ITT and Guoman Hotels, C&M Travel Recruitment set out to discover the 30 most inspiring and dynamic people in the travel industry aged 30 years and younger - the 30 Under 30.
Here we profile Charlotte Black, head of employment at Travlaw LLP.
Q: How did you become involved in the travel industry? Did you intend to?
A: "I have a legal background, and also had a keen interest in travelling. When applying for a training contract following completion of the LPC (legal practice course) I made an application to Travlaw. They seemed like the perfect fit; a niche practice with a specialism in travel! What's not to like? Since starting at Travlaw in 2007 I have travelled to the Arctic Circle and Barbados amongst many other destinations, all in the name of work. I love working for the travel industry and couldn't imagine doing anything else."
Q: Did you have an interest in travel before working in the sector?
A: "I travelled around south-east Asia during my gap year, and I did an international internship during a university summer holiday, working for a City law firm. Alongside working in their London offices, I flew out to their offices in Jakarta to work for a month.
"These experiences developed my travel bug, which grows and grows year upon year, especially when working for such interesting clients! One day I want to try skiing in the Himalayas; I can confirm that this dream stemmed from working with such an exciting bunch of clients!"
Q: Was it a surprise to be in the final 30 of Tomorrow's Travel Leaders?
A: "Yes, absolutely. It was a really nice surprise because obviously we aren't a travel business as such; we are a law firm and a supplier to the travel industry. We didn't really expect that I would be included, but it was a very lovely surprise."
Q: Has the recognition had any impact on your career?
A: "My involvement with Tomorrow's Travel Leaders has been really helpful, and it was an honour to be included. My inclusion has aided in raising my profile as a specialist travel lawyer, in addition I have met some really interesting, up and coming stars within the travel industry! The guest speakers at the Tomorrow's Travel Leaders industry events have been extremely interesting, and hearing about their start in the travel industry has been enlightening."
Q: What advice do you have for other young people looking to boost their career?
A: "In any industry, when applying for jobs (especially in such difficult economic times) it can be quite difficult to get noticed and stand out from the crowd! Think about using social media in order to get the attention of the right people.
"A top tip for candidates is to create a Twitter account and LinkedIn profile. When attending travel industry or legal events, follow the guest speaker, and link with them on LinkedIn. Ask thought provoking questions or reply to their tweets, then follow up with an email and perhaps you might just get noticed.
"Ultimately, it's about thinking outside of the box and getting yourself noticed. Too many people think, ‘Ok, I'm going to go online and complete an application form', then are disappointed when they don't get an interview.
"Make potential employer targets intrigued and interested in what you have to say. There are different ways of getting noticed, and I think that people need to be a bit more switched on about doing that. Be innovative because that applies to everything really - whether it is starting a new business or getting noticed. The power of social media is massive - just look at Twitter and Facebook."
Q: What are the challenges and advantages of working within the legal side of the travel industry?
A: "I love playing a major part in advising companies on legal and regulatory matters affecting their business. It gives you great satisfaction when you know you have made a difference to a client, and have really helped them navigate their way through legal minefields.
"You get to work with many senior people in travel businesses, which is great, as you absorb commercial acumen which aids in your ability to offer great advice. In addition, working for a product-focused industry has enabled me to develop my creative thinking skills, in the context of my role as a lawyer.
"Recently I created the Travlaw HR Protect product; a complete employment law service designed specifically for the travel industry. This product has been extremely well received by the legal sector, and travel industry alike. It is sad to say, but a lot of legal businesses don't think creatively; they don't create products, and simply charge at an hourly rate, which is, in my view, a little boring! I think that in order to be successful, it is about trying to think outside of the box by examining different methods and angles in which you attack a problem."