Karen Dunwoody – Perth

Interview with:

Karen Dunwoody (47) is Consultant/Director/ Owner of travel agency Jetset Travel Applecross, Perth

– January 7th 2012. She is married to Mal and has 2 golden retrievers. We met her by coincidence, and we had an instant chemistry. She invited us for dinner at her place and offered us a bedroom. Karen is a ‘Tassie Girl’ (Tasmania). She is a very nice person and she inspired me. Reason enough to invite her for this 6vitesse-on-tour- interview.

Karen, what did you do to become what you are today?

Travelling has always played a big part in my life and like a large percentage of young Australians, at the age of 18 I came to Europe for 2 years and did the whole back-packer thing. Among other things I worked on a Kibbutz in Israel, was an au pair in London and like most people, was robbed in Italy more than once! All those experiences and more have certainly shaped who and what I am today. There was never any question of where my career was heading once I returned to Tasmania.

Jetset Travel Launceston took a gamble and gave me a job as a junior travel consultant almost 25 years ago. I am forever grateful that they gave me that opportunity and now I’ve worked for Jetset Travel all my working life. From there I moved into my own little office onsite at an aluminium smelter looking after their corporate travel. It was there I met my husband Mal who was working as a chemical engineer for Rio Tinto. After a few years we got married and decided to try our luck in Perth, but it was terribly hard to leave all our friends and family behind to start a new life, particularly because we knew no-one in Perth.
We loved Perth from day one eventhough the summer was unbelievably hot that year. I found a job easily at Jetset Applecross and after 8 months the agency was for sale. We bought it and we have never really looked back.

Who do you admire the most?

I very much admire Nelson Mandela. (That’s why we called one dog Nelson. The other one could have been Mandela, but we called her Maddy instead.) Just for what he went through and the life that he had. He is a brilliant, strong man and it will be a sad day when he’s no longer here.
I also very much admire Barak Obama. I think that, considering the problems he inherited in the world, he is doing a brilliant job. So I hope that he gets re-elected!
I also admire Mal, the second best husband in the world (after Erwin of course)!!

What gives you energy?

Travel is such an important part of my life that I always have to have something in the future to look forward to. And I think that everything that Mal and I do in work, trying to keep fit and active is all because we want to travel and enjoy our lives to the full and you definitely need energy for that.
Being around positive, fun people also gives me energy.

 Do you have a dream that you hope one day to be fulfilled?

Yes ! That dream is what you guys are doing right now. Travelling around the world and meet all different kind of people, and to spot all kinds of endangered wildlife. I would love to do that one day.

In what are you a talent by nature?

If there is such a thing than it will be skills dealing with people. That ‘s what I love and that’s my talent. I also think I’m a good listener but Mal may not agree with that!

Who do you respect the most?

 I respect almost everybody! Rich or poor, young or old, white or black, everybody earns to be respected. I think that if we all should do so, the world would be a better world to live in. It would make a difference.

What do you need to grow as a person?

Love and respect from my family and friends and to have challengers in my life that push me to my limits.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say. Did you experience this?

Yes. I had a tough time… My mother and my brother died short after each other….It was hard, but afterwards it made me stronger to deal with life. We also had an employee 7 years ago who robbed our business of around $750,000. That was an extremely stressful time but you certainly learn from that and learn to never make the same mistake again!

When did you proceed by taking a small step backwards?

I think we all do this every day. Reflect what has been and change what has to be changed. It is important in order to take the right path in life.

What does ‘freedom’ mean to you?

Freedom? No children! This was our decision and it turns out to be the right one for us. We can do whatever we want.

 What does ‘friendship’ mean to you?

It is different now here in Perth. The friendships you have from your childhood are much stronger. When we moved I had to start from scratch and had to make a new circle of friends. Friendship now has other dimensions to me.

 What would you like to change in the world?

To stop the climate changing! Mal and I, we are members of the ‘Polar Bear International’, an association involved with climate change. I like their expression: “Everything a Polar Bear does, doesn’t affect you, but everything you do affect the Polar Bear “ It is very sad to see how vulnerable the Polar Bears are. And it’s only getting worse.
I am convinced that it’s the countries outlook on the environment that can make a difference, more so than our own individual efforts.

What is the most precious for you?

I think you know the answer on this question by now… This is without any doubt my 2 dogs Nelson and Maddy.

What would you like to do, but never dared to?

I love photography. So I always wanted to do a photography trip to Brazil and picture the Panther. But my biggest fear are spiders !!! And I heard there are lots of them, so I cancelled !

What drives you? What are your values?

Respect for everybody, and to treat the others like you want to be treated. These are the basics to me.
Thanks Karen to share your precious thoughts with me. It’s very valuable.