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Year of Award: 2004 Award State: Tasmania None > Tourism
To investigate activities/programs in tourism and hospitality linking business operations, customer/visitor services and human resource management aimed at improving visitor experiences and business outcomes - U.K., Ireland, USA

‘Tell us again why you need to go to Disneyworld?’

My response must have been convincing; I was selected for a Fellowship. My Fellowship centred on looking at ways in which the management of people in hospitality and tourism contributed to return visitation and better business management. Tasmania has long depended on the tourist dollar and my study looked at how quality assurance programs in the British Isles made a contribution to better business outcomes through people.

There was a very good reason for going to Disneyworld. Since 1955 at Anaheim and then Orlando, Disney has built a reputation for excellence in customer service. A fundamental part of its business model is maximising repeat visitation; I wanted to know how they did it, given the strength of the brand and the lofty expectations of their guests year in, year out. The Fellowship allowed me to undertake a truly inspiring course on developing and maximising loyalty.

I came back to Tasmania and developed a range of career tools and operator materials for the Education Department and the Australian Hotels Association. The Fellowship gave me profound insights that I used in my consulting company, Mischief Business Engineering, and in my work with organisations in Tasmania and further afield. I peppered my work in the Better Workplaces program (for what is now the Department of State Growth) with material picked up from the Fellowship, and I continue to use that learning in my current work as an academic in the UK.

Today, while I’m still an over-excitable Duran Duran fan, much else has changed. I moved back to England, where I’m Head of Department, Leadership and Management at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University. As part of a team, I have the privilege of managing undergraduate and postgraduate programs for over 12,000 students around the world and I work widely with organisations on developing their businesses, largely on the premise of building capability through people.

In an age where rapid and discontinuous change, rampant technological advance and global competition are typical, people (as a point of difference for business) have never been more important.

They say: ‘Once a Churchill Fellow, always a Churchill Fellow’; I have the opportunity almost every day to call on learning and inspiration from my Fellowship and package it into the work I do from New York to Kuala Lumpur, or as close to home as the students on campus. The Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship offered me the most astonishing opportunities, and I am fortunate to be able to continue to bring the learning from it to my work. 

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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