Thirty years ago, in 1987, I was a young man of 26 years. I worked for System One, the predecessor to the global travel technology company known today as Amadeus. Here are five life lessons I’ve learned along this amazing, three-decade journey.
Always maintain a sense of wonder – and humor
I remember being young and very excited to work in the airline industry at SystemOne Direct Access, wholly owned by Eastern Airlines. We lovingly referred to our company by its acronym, “SODA.” The words “System” and “One” were linked together, so we’d joke that we worked for “System-OH-NEE,” its phonetic pronunciation. Much to everyone’s relief, the company dropped the “Direct Access” part, and we later became known simply as System One Corporation.
Corner offices are over-rated
As a new marketing automation consultant, my job was to keep customer accounts up to speed on the latest enhancements to our rapidly growing system. I was based in Huntsville, Alabama, as Eastern Airlines had just won the Space Camp account. My office was situated in a former closet behind the Eastern Airlines ticket counter at the Huntsville airport. That didn’t bother me at all! I loved the company, the atmosphere, and most of all, the people.
Preparation is key
I remember being sent to an entire month of training at the System One Learning Center Academy in Houston. At the conclusion of training, we took an exam where attendees had to score a minimum of 85% to retain their jobs. Needless to say, I passed – and I’m still here to prove it! Never underestimate the importance of study, preparation, and doing your homework.
Business is constantly changing
In the late eighties, the airline industry was in constant turmoil. Who can’t forget Republic, Ozark, Braniff, People Express, Northwest Orient, Pacific Southwest, and Piedmont? Eastern Airlines’ shaky financial position left us all wondering what our future might hold. Every few months, we faced restructuring and layoffs.
SystemOne was known then as a Computer Reservation System (CRS). Over the years, the company evolved to become the Amadeus Global Distribution System (GDS). Nobody could have predicted the rise of the online travel agency – or the internet! The future was (and still is) uncertain.
Fast forward to today
This October, Amadeus will celebrate its 30th anniversary. My early sense of wonder prevails as I marvel at our globally diverse corporate culture. To me, Amadeus people – my colleagues – are still our company’s greatest asset. Many of the folks I worked with in 1987 are still with the company today. Around the world, Amadeus has 14,200 employees representing 118 nationalities, in 190+ countries, with global headquarters in France, Spain and Germany. Our North American operation has grown from a single Miami office to eleven locations, including our state-of-the-art R&D Center near Boston.
In 2017, the travel technology industry is stronger than anyone could have imagined. Amadeus has grown to become the largest industry player. We continue to thrive with an innovative, dynamic technology infrastructure and solid financial future, which leads me to add my fifth and final lesson …
Wisdom is a gift earned over time
When I started my travel technology career in 1987, my hair was a handsome shade of black. Today, I’ve grown quite fond of saying, “A little gray hair is a small price to pay for all this wisdom.” I’m certain my 30-year veteran colleagues would attest to the fact that we’ve earned it!