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Career Path

Globe trekker garners a reputation

by Natasha Rogai

Louis Lee, general manager
Amadeus Hong Kong Ltd
Photo: Lewis Lam
The travel industry was in many ways the perfect career launch pad for Louis Lee whose dispositions are characterised by a love for change, challenge and people interaction. Fortunately for him, he is getting plenty of all these as general manager of Amadeus Hong Kong Ltd, the world's number one provider of technology and distribution solutions to the travel and tourism industry.

Mr Lee has been involved with the travel industry from the very beginning of his career. Straight out of school in the 1970s, he took a job as a tour escort, flying frequently to popular tourist destinations, particularly the UK. "I got so much exposure to the industry and I particularly enjoyed interaction with people," he recalls. The job was exciting but exhausting at times since long-haul flights at the time involved several stopovers. He concedes however that the experience was so invaluable that he would not trade it in for anything else in the world.

New heights

Three years later, he decided it was time he moved on and subsequently became a flight controller with Cathay Pacific Airways, working in systems. He held various roles included controlling flight schedules and inventory, passenger databases and marketing automation, making sure that all systems worked from a user perspective. Computerisation was new at the time and training in IT scarce, so Mr Lee had to learn on the job. "It was very technical stuff, but I learnt a great deal about systems and revenue management," he says.

In 1988, Cathay Pacific joined with other leading Asian airlines to create the Abacus computerised reservations system. Mr Lee was transferred to Kansas City to work with the company designing the system. After a little over a year, he returned to Hong Kong and helped set up a new distribution department within the company. He even became chairman of a working committee focusing on GDS issues in the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

Expanding horizons

''We are starting to see signs of recovery in the market''
As a result of his respected profile in the industry, in 1999, Amadeus approached Mr Lee to spearhead the company's Asia Pacific airlines business at its regional headquarters in Bangkok. "The job required me to travel constantly to maintain personal contact with airlines throughout Asia. I saw this as a fantastic career opportunity to work with Amadeus," he notes. "My wife and I relocated to Bangkok but I was always on the move."

In 2005, Mr Lee was presented another opportunity. This time, it was to become general manager for Amadeus Hong Kong. "It was a new challenge. I needed to oversee everything including P&L (profit and loss)," he says. "The past year has not been an easy oneˇX travel was hit first by the global recession, then the swine flu pandemic. However, we are starting to see signs of recovery in the market."

Mr Lee says that travel experience is an advantage for people eager to join the travel industry. As for those looking for opportunities with Amadeus, industry experience is essential. "Our role is one of an industry specialist and we need to demonstrate our expertise to our clients." Mr Lee explains.

There are excellent prospects for Amadeus staff that perform well. He adds, "We have a wide range of solutions and customers. Our presence in more than 217 markets worldwide offers exceptional opportunities to staff. We are very open to employees applying for jobs in different parts of the business and in different countries. Aside from the exposure, the other good thing is that every day is different hereˇX some people find that too much, but I'd be bored with everyday routines."

Taken from Career Times 4 December 2009, p. B10


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