Karen Robertson

Director of Product & Marketing - Group Tours

Karen is based at JacTravel's Edinburgh office. She is a member of the Senior Management Team on the Group Tours' side of the business. The flexibility that JacTravel offers, and the chance to make the most of her skill set, keeps Karen as enthusiastic about her job as on her first day, more than 15 years ago.

The company's recognition of a skill base and what it can add to the business has been key for me. Role development has given me the space to take a step back, look at things, and ask 'Where is my job now - and where could it go?'

How my career at JacTravel has developed

I started out in a hands-on role in operations, making sure everything ran smoothly for groups arriving into Scotland from Northern Europe. Then I progressed into a management role for the Groups division in Edinburgh, taking on responsibility for account development too. Now I'm responsible for product development and marketing across the whole Groups division.

What I enjoy most at JacTravel

It's the variety I enjoy most, and the opportunity to get really involved. One minute I could be leading a focus group to shape our strategy, working up a new product idea or making new connections at an industry event. I also like the creative side - working with others to implement new ways of doing things or inventing fresh ways of getting our message across. What's most satisfying of all though is that I feel like I'm playing a genuine part in shaping JacTravel's future.

The most important skills for my role

For product development you need good research and organisational abilities, and you need to be able to develop relationships by networking effectively. In marketing, the creative side is important - finding and inventing different ways to get the message out, and to stay one step ahead. Across the board persistence is key, as it means being able to take a project and push it all the way through. Leadership is critical, so people are motivated to get involved, to work with enthusiasm and to hit deadlines and targets.

My advice for JacTravel career seekers

Be confident about expressing your ideas. Every idea deserves to be heard so never be too afraid to speak up and throw things into the mix. Also, recognise what you're good at, see where the opportunities are and move towards them. Don't wait to be told what your good points are or for a particular door to open, because sometimes you've got to open it for yourself.

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