Kim Grzywacz joined her husband at their charter bus company, CIT Signature Transportation, six years ago, leaving behind an 18-year elementary education career.
As her bookkeeping tasks grew to include sales and marketing, she sought to educate herself on the travel industry.
Grzywacz attended ABA's Annual Meeting and Marketplace and signed up for its Certified Travel Industry Specialist (CTIS) program. She attended Spader Business Management and Destination Insurance meetings with her husband, was asked to join the Motorcoach Marketing Council Board of Directors and became active in ABA's Women in Buses—first as membership chair, now as chair. She volunteered on ABA's Education Subcommittee and chaired it in 2018, and looks forward to ABA Marketplace 2019 in Louisville, for which she's chair.
"It is through my connections with leaders in this industry that I have grown."
That leadership growth has been a big change for her. "As a teacher, I did mentor student teachers, but kept the rest of my leadership skills focused on my students. In this industry, I have gained most of my knowledge by surrounding myself with experts, learning from them and taking my newfound knowledge back to my company." Naturally, people often ask if she misses teaching.
"I do miss the act of teaching, students and colleagues, but I can get my fix by volunteering in my son's classroom. I have been blessed with many friends in this industry and I have experienced things I would not have had I remained in a classroom. I loved teaching and I love this industry.
"This industry offers more than just a job: It offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for employees and clients. I love being a part of this."
Grzywacz also loves the experiences that occur between CIT Signature Transportation's drivers and passengers. "When drivers and clients post on Facebook about the sights, sounds and tastes they are experiencing—when clients reach out to us to let us know how much value a driver brought to their trip—this brings me great joy."
As an educator, she finds her best lessons in learning environments. Through the ABA CTIS program she learned about HEAT—an acronym to assist in working with clients: Hear Empathize Apologize Take ownership.
"It is our responsibility to assist our clients with solving their transportation issues. This can only be done when you have listened to their issues, understand their plight and take action to come up with a solution. Following HEAT should be done from the first contact you have until the trip is complete and beyond."
Other lessons double as advice: Surround yourself with leaders in the industry, join organizations, volunteer, and keep educating yourself on best practices. And remember to take time for yourself.
"I am really an introvert. I love being alone—quiet time to reflect and recharge. It's how I gain my energy to be the extrovert you'll see at work for this industry."
Edited by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in Groups Today.