Meet the MD: Steve Byrne, Travel Counsellors

Meet the MD: Steve Byrne, Travel Counsellors

Steve Byrne heads up independent travel company Travel Counsellors, based in the North West, and he tells us how he developed his company culture as well as how his passion for exercise translates into the workplace.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

To help develop and execute a long-term vision and strategy for the business; ensure we have the very best team; support, empower and challenge them to be the best they can be and work collaboratively to maintain and develop a culture wherein people are healthy, happy, trusting, entrepreneurial and innovative.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

1992 – 1998: Principal Consultant, KPMG

1998 – 2001: Finance Director, International Travel Connections

2001 – 2004: CEO, International Travel Connections

2004 – Present: MD, Travel Counsellors

I started my career in finance and am a chartered accountant, with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Henley Management College.  I gained a lot of experience with KPMG and since moving into travel I've been fortunate to progress my commercial career with established and successful businesses and teams that it has been a pleasure to work for and with. 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

- A clear vision and the ability to communicate that vision and culture effectively across the business and externally 

- Resilience and a positive attitude 

- Being passionate and driven 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

The business now operates in seven markets globally and in October 2014, I led an MBO of the Company, backed by Equistone Partners Europe Limited.  My biggest challenge and opportunity so far has been retaining and developing the culture as the business grows and positioning the business in the digital world in a way that strengthens and supports the vision and model. We will be a big business that thinks and acts like a small business.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Any form of exercise. Running. Cycling. Anything that gets me outside and puts fresh air in my lungs.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional footballer, runner or cyclist. It could still happen…

Any pet hates in the workplace?

- Negativity. I’m much more impressed when people come to me with solutions and ideas rather than problems although it's always better to chat than stew on things. 

- Slowness. It's better to get something out and making an impact rather than waiting for perfection. 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I see Travel Counsellors as a tech savvy enterprise, famous and loved for the way it cares for its customers and people and for a culture that encourages ideas and innovation.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

You must surround yourself with brilliant people including mentors that you can learn from and share with.

What do you like doing outside of work?

Spending time with my wife and three daughters.  Anything outdoorsy.  I like to think that I’m also an invaluable member of the company 5-a-side football team (the pro dream never really dies…) 

How easy do you find juggling a career with family life?

It’s obviously very difficult, but you have to be honest with yourself and be comfortable with the choices you make. If you are passionate and care about your career and the business you probably won't be able to stop yourself from committing 100%. I have found working from home helps and it will also help living close to where you work - something I haven't done!