by | Apr 30, 2021 | RISE

RISE has just celebrated our Special 1st Anniversary episode. It’s been a year of contrasts. At the same time being a time of loss, of fear, challenge, uncertainty, and personal isolation, it’s also been a year of unprecedented innovation, of unity, camaraderie, and hope. And so, one year on, to celebrate this milestone, we paused to reflect, to share, and to re-inspire. We were proud to feature 18 of our almost 60 Execs in Residence from previous episodes – global leaders through 3 seasons of RISE who shared messages of their personal hopes for the future of our industry. Alongside them, our impressive, eloquent and intuitive EHL student guests Christina Klaas, Alex Radojevic and Lena Chan certainly gave us reason to feel optimistic that the future of Travel, Tourism & Hospitality is in highly capable and compassionate hands!

Responding to the personal nature of the messages, Lena’s unsurprised comment was that ‘the only way forward is to show that we’re united in our vulnerability.’ This simple truth inspired us to dig a little deeper and look at the personal insights we the RISE team gained this year. Some of them are more comfortable truths than others. Some are helpful, and empowering, and worth holding onto as we move into the future – into the next normal. Others are more uncomfortable realities that we’d like to either leave behind us, find a way of working with, or adjusting to so we can move forward.

We’ve all become more intimately acquainted with work colleagues – our humanity and vulnerability exposed as we’ve worked from home, juggling work and family life, giving others insight into our homes, through our virtual connection with the outside world.

This year has concentrated and amplified our experiences and reactions – good and bad. Love, gratitude, meaning and hope – also fear, loss, anxiety, and vulnerability.

Our RISE Team was inspired– and in some cases, prodded to dig a little deeper, and share with you what each of us have learned about ourselves this year.




“The Power of the hug: I can honestly say I have never realised just how much I have taken a hug for granted.

We hug for many reasons: a hello, a goodbye, a thank you or a sorry. I truly believe it can fix so much. Throughout this whole year, it is what I have yearned for so much. There are many moments over this past year that stick in my mind, but the ones that really stir emotions are those that contain a hug. The first hug outside my household was with my sister when she was able to bubble with us, we held that hug until the tears stopped. Hugging my Nana at Christmas, nearly a whole year after I was last able to hug her, I never wanted to let her go. As we go into the “next normal” and as restrictions start to ease, there will be so many things that will return to an old sense of normality, but one thing I will not let return, will be me taking another hug for granted.”




“The importance of not taking small things for granted such as going to the gym/the office or seeing friends at a restaurant.  Also, saying “No” or “I don’t have time” to work tasks sometimes, to allow time to get out of my room (which is also my office) and get a change of scenery so that I can come back to work with more energy the next day.”




“I like working barefoot.”

Translation: I’m a big hearted softie who cares more than I like to let on, and I’m worried that it’s starting to show!




“As much as I am disorganised as a person, when it comes to work or my family – I don’t like half-measures. With schools open and shut, work lives and routine changed from ‘before’, I had to learn to accept I could no longer attempt to give 100% of myself to every area of my life. When your kids are playing next to your desk, as you try and maintain some semblance of professionalism in a meeting, you learn that you can only do what you can do. I’ve learned that this is okay, well I am at least trying to accept that it is okay. Burning out won’t help anyone, so my big shift has been finding focus in those windows of normality. Being okay with the 60% days, knowing that a window will open again and I’ll be able to still deliver work that I’m proud of.”




It was a Thursday in January in the home office and I was so busy I couldn’t keep up with the work given to me nor would I have made the deadline ahead. I had just cancelled another meeting with friends when I realised it is alright to say: “I need help, I can’t do this alone”. It’s good to know your strengths, accepting help became one of them.




“As a natural introvert, I realised how much energy I expend on presenting a more extroverted façade, because work and social life require it. There were parts of lockdown that felt more comfortable to me than ‘normal life’. The upside is that I’ve become more comfortable that this is who I am and that I don’t have to fake extroversion. The downside is that some aspects of getting out there again are quite daunting after a year of not having to. Fortunately even introverts like some social connection, and everyone seems keen for more real human contact now.”




“The COVID-19 crisis taught me that as much as I, we, can all endure crises, it is usually for a limited period of time. This time has been different. It was long, hard, endless. Which has meant there was nowhere to hide, especially from colleagues with whom we usually manage our ‘on’ presence. Sometimes you just have to call off a meeting minutes before because a meltdown is just too near the surface. Sometimes you don’t notice the signs and the meltdown happens publicly. All times you just want to hide. This is where this time has been a strange gift – being able to find safety, kindness and understanding in the presence of people you never knew you could trust to simply let you be human, as scary and messy and grouchy as that may be. Because quite honestly, we’re all going through this scary time together.”


For many, it’s been a year of self-discovery. We’ve faced personal challenges, and discovered in ourselves, different strengths and vulnerabilities, but the one universal truth, as pointed out by Lena, is our ‘pent up demand for human contact.’ Alex shared his excitement at the prospect of getting together in person to work again, stressing how during his time of social isolation in Melbourne, he’d realised just how much we need social contact, and how “socialisation is important to survive.” In the context of employment, Christina emphasised how after this year, employee wellbeing will be an important consideration for any organisation.


A Psychologist’s view


We asked Clinical Psychologist, Shona Lowes of Equilibria Psychology, which lesson from this year we should carry with us into the future as we move beyond the pandemic, and for a tool to assist us in moving forward positively.

I think the pandemic has been an opportunity to pause our busy lives and to re-evaluate what is important to us in relation to work, leisure and social life. 

‘Reflecting on the past year can be really helpful to ensure you move forward in a way that suits you and meets your needs for social and leisure activities. Write in a journal all the thoughts that come to your mind in response to: 

‘What have I learnt about myself through this pandemic’

‘What have I enjoyed or engaged in more during the enforced lockdowns’

‘What did I miss or not miss from my pre-pandemic life’

Then write a plan for yourself going forward to ensure you continue with the things you enjoy and gain a balance that fits you.’


REaching out – Moving Forward


Finally, our Chief Wizard, Jessica says “This year the world’s collective trauma has been more transparent. So many loved ones lost, the world over, friends and colleagues losing jobs, and the lack of social connection that we still don’t fully know the consequences of. Reach out to those who are hurting, reach out to those who seem the strongest, we have all been through some type of trauma this year, and it doesn’t heal the minute the world opens again.”

All our RISE guests over the past year, have all been told that whatever happens backstage on RISE, it’s ‘because Jessica says so.’ The reason being, she’s a smart Texan who knows what she’s about, so if she says so, it makes sense, and there’s a good chance that everything will turn out just fine!

Speaking of moving on… next on RISE, we’ll be talking with Andrew Golding, CEO of Pam Golding Properties about one trend from the past year that we’ll be continuing into the medium term future – working from home! What impact has this had on Real Estate? Join RISE,  Anita Mendiratta, & Prof Demian Hodari (henceforth known as The Barefoot Professor) to find out!


Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.