How Monash Arts grad Christie Sutherland turned her passion for travel into a career
‘Hold on – I need to get into the ball pit.’
Most interviews don’t begin with an interviewee barrelling their way into an office room decked out like a child’s dream playpen, but Christie Sutherland, G Adventure’s Operations Supervisor and Monash Arts graduate, is anything but typical. Smart, driven and enthusiastic, this go-getter has used her Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management to forge a career out of her unquenchable #wanderlust and strong desire to leave the world a better place.
Christie’s interest in sustainable tourism stemmed from her time working in Europe for the youth travel company Topdeck. ‘I loved working for Topdeck, but it meant I experienced over-tourism first hand, especially in places like Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona,’ says Christie. ‘I could see the potential of the tourism industry, but I also wanted to unpack my personal experiences and really get into the reasons behind the problems, and start thinking deeply about what the industry and people working in the industry could do to tackle them.’
‘I started looking for an industry focused course with a sustainability focus, and Monash Arts’ Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management provided the best option for my needs. It was a huge decision to make – I was living overseas, travelling all the time and loving my life, but the course was too good to pass up.’
While studying, Christie found herself fully immersed in the tourism industry, making industry connections and travelling to exciting locales to ‘study’. ‘No, we really did study!’ laughs Christie. ‘Field trips were such an important part of the course, especially because they involved meeting fantastic professionals in their place of work, including business owners, industry experts working overseas and past students who were succeeding in the field.’
‘The trips were so far-flung – we went everywhere from Fiji, to Latvia (pictured left), to the Great Ocean Road. These kinds of immersive experiences helped me gain a practical, first-hand understanding of how different destinations are tackling tourism challenges.’
After graduating, Christie started a new role as an Operations Tour Guide Coordinator for Melbourne-based company G Adventures, small group travel aficionados and ball-pit appreciators. Her talent, experience and – thanks to her master’s – deep insights into the tourism industry saw her quickly promoted to Operations Supervisor.
‘My master’s helped give me an edge for this new role,’ says Christie. ‘I can see the bigger picture, and understand how the many parts of this huge industry fit together. This job has also given me the opportunity to start making sustainability a constant element of my career – I’m part of the Eco Team in G Adventures’ Melbourne Office, and it’s great getting people who are passionate about sustainability together.’
Tourism in Australia is a booming business, with a 2019 Australian Financial Review report estimating that the number of jobs has increased by thirty-four per cent over the last decade. The nationwide growth of the sector means that it now employs a staggering one in thirteen Australian workers.
To Christie, these stats come as no surprise. ‘Of course tourism is popular as a career in Australia – it’s such a fun and diverse industry! There are so many pathways and possibilities.
‘Plus – let’s be honest – travelling is fun. Figuring out how to do it well is the best kind of challenge to have.’