Clare Wheatley, GM Australia/New Zealand & Virgin Australia Joint Venture, Delta Air Lines
Clare Wheatley has more than 20 years’ experience working in the travel industry – having started her career as a personal assistant at Carlson Wagonlit Travel after graduating from RMIT in Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts in Travel and Tourism.
During her time at CWT, Clare progressed through various roles as a travel consultant, sales support coordinator and account manager, before transitioning into the aviation sector, which had always been her passion, spending time working at QantasLink and United Airlines before joining Delta Air Lines in April of 2012.
Having lived and worked overseas for nine years in London, Chicago, New York and North Carolina, Clare brings global experience and knowledge to her current role as general manager for Australia and New Zealand and the Virgin Australia Joint Venture for Delta Air Lines. She manages a team of sixteen staff, ranging in responsibilities from sales and marketing, to revenue and sales support, and is also a mentor in Delta’s RISE mentor program and active member on the Executive Committee at Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA).
What is it you love about working in the airline industry?
I love that it’s so fast paced and forever changing – there is never a dull moment. Each day brings a set of new challenges or exciting projects to work on. I also have a passion for planes in general and of course I love traveling therefore I truly feel very lucky to be working in an industry that continues to fuel my passion each and every day.
What is your favourite city to visit and why?
There are so many it’s very hard to narrow it down to just one – London, New York, Seattle, Nashville and Lake Como come to mind but I would have to say my favourite is Chicago. I lived there for two-and-a-half years so I have very fond memories. Whilst the winters are bitterly cold there’s something special about strolling down Michigan Ave at Christmas time with all the lights in the trees and snow on the ground, or it’s the free concerts and music festivals in the park during the summer – sitting by the lake and watching the world go by. It’s also the city where I met my husband and made lifelong friends.
You live in Sydney – which three places do you love showing off to international visitors?
Although I live in Sydney, I’m originally a Melbournian so I’m still exploring Sydney myself. But so far, some favourite spots to take international visitors to are the Spit to Manly walk, lunch at Cottage Point Inn (preferably arriving by seaplane if you can) and Palm Beach.
What do you recommend international visitors see and do when visiting Australia?
I’m a little biased towards Victoria so of course a trip down the Great Ocean Road and wine tasting in the Yarra Valley are always on my list along with Margaret River in Western Australia. But you can’t beat sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. We are very blessed to live in a country with some of the best beaches in the world. They are a must to visit for any international visitor. But I also think Tasmania is a very special place for those who enjoy the outdoors and hiking – especially Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain.
Which places in the world would you love to visit that you haven’t been to before?
Again this is such a hard question to narrow down to just a few – but laying on a beach in the Maldives, going on safari in Africa, sailing from the Spit to Dubrovnik in Croatia and visiting Scandinavia remain on my list.
When not travelling for work, where do you like to go?
I tend to gravitate towards destinations that are slower paced and laid back whether it be coastal or rural towns. I enjoy beach destinations but wine regions with gourmet foods are always very enjoyable. Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley are my next holiday destinations.
What tips to you have for people starting out in the travel industry?
The only monotonous thing about the aviation industry is the constant change – so be prepared for that. Work hard, ask lots of questions and build a network. Find colleagues and managers who can be your advocate and who are willing to support and mentor you through your career.