Interview with GDS Junior Operations Manager, Paulína Krapková
Paulína Krapková, our GDS Junior Operations Manager joined Kiwi.com more than 3 years ago in the position of GDS Team Manager. Before joining, she worked 5 years in Customer Service for Lufthansa. “There I got the essential skills required to become a GDS Team Manager – the knowledge of the GDS system Amadeus, as well as managerial experience with the leading of a team,” mentioned Paulína.
Read the interview to learn more about the world of GDS, and to get some great inspiration on leadership and management from our dear Paulína.
Hi Paulina! You recently took the role of GDS Junior Operations Manager. How difficult was it to get to this position?
Hello! First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview. Since I started my journey here, I knew I would love to have career development within the GDS team. The position of Junior Operations Manager has newly introduced in our team just a couple of months ago and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to apply…and to get it. 🙂 In the role of Junior Operations Manager, I’m responsible for the operations of our team in Brno. It was a big change for me as I had years of experience in people management with a strong focus on people and their development.
However, now I have to be focused on the “numbers” much more than before. Definitely, I work much more with spreadsheets than I used to before and looking into the problems from the “bigger picture”. I closely cooperate with other departments, I am overseeing task allocation in our team, approving the updates of our processes (suggesting such updates as well) and in general, I’m responsible for the performance and KPI fulfillment of the GDS team in Brno.
I feel very comfortable in this position, I am surrounded by competent people and I’m still learning a lot from my direct manager who is my role model in how to make exact and good decisions, and how to lead a team.
What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge while working as a GDS Junior Operations Manager?
The biggest challenge is to uncover the bottlenecks, fine-tune the processes to make sure they are effective, and of course, followed. You know, we’re a big company, our Customer Support department has several different teams and it’s important that our processes are aligned. Also, now I have a bigger responsibility for my team in Brno, as my decisions have a bigger impact than before which is quite challenging as well. Our team is not in direct contact with the customers but we are doing the utmost to refund as many tickets as possible, yet we’re fully dependent on the airline policies and there are, unfortunately, airlines that do not allow a monetary refund. This makes our daily operations more difficult as we have to find a different, yet the most suitable, form of refund for our customers.
How would you describe the GDS world and your work in it to your grandma?
I believe all my co-workers will agree that this is a question we receive often from our relatives and friends, and still, this question is not easy to answer :). GDS is a shortcut for the Global Distribution System. It’s a system – network, that allows transactions between the airlines, travel agencies, hotels, car rental companies, etc. In our company we work with 3 major ones – Amadeus, Galileo and Sabre. Simply said, in the GDS team we communicate with the airlines through this system. We are booking new tickets and in general, we are processing various transactions with the passenger’s airline tickets. For example, when a customer would like to change the date or time of his travel, it’s us who will recalculate how much such change would cost, and if the customer agrees, we will process this request. A lot of procedures have changed since the start of the pandemic and since then our team has focused mainly on refunding the tickets.
What do you love the most about GDS?
What I love the most about the GDS systems is that everything is super logical – every single command has its meaning and once you learn the logic behind it, you can easily extend the knowledge and learn how to work in them. To know any of the GDS systems is a very good skill-set for the future, in case you are interested in a job in the airline industry. It will open you the door for a career path in the airline industry worldwide. So I highly recommend this position for anyone who is fascinated by the airline industry and would like to gain knowledge in several GDS systems and experience in this field.
What are the things you are the proudest of when it comes to work you’ve done at Kiwi.com?
In the past 3 years, I’ve been involved in several projects that had a positive impact on our agents. But what I’m most proud of is the work environment I’m part of and the work environment I helped to build. From my point of view, teamwork works pretty well. During the pandemic when suddenly all team members including myself and team managers stayed in the home office, we created a channel on Slack (an internal communication tool), where agents could ask for help with specific cases they struggled with. It turned out to be very useful and this channel is still in place and colleagues are using it in order to help each other.
Another activity we kept in our team is the daily team huddles – 5 minutes between morning shifts ends and afternoon shifts start our Team Managers are giving a heads up to agents with most important updates and reminders. This is, as well for them, an opportunity to quickly ask questions if something is not clear. Most complex updates or discussions about processes are done during the monthly team meetings each Team Manager has with their team. That gives enough time and space to clarify doubts. Currently, the majority of our members work from home, so all these activities are done online, although I believe that soon we will meet more often in the office.
How different is working in GDS at Kiwi.com compared to other companies you have worked for?
Here I must point out that, honestly, Kiwi culture is extraordinary and what I appreciate the most is that the voice of every single employee is heard. Anyone can come up with an idea for improvement and this is always taken into consideration. In my previous employment, this was not the case all the time, as we were following the processes and policies that were set for years. Here it’s an ever-changing environment and people here are very open-minded with a can-do approach.
What I enjoy is that we also organize every year on our team’s birthday a gathering where we go through the most important accomplishments but also present our vision and projects we are focusing on. And what would a birthday party be without a great birthday cake :).
What values do you identify as the core ones for your team?
Teamwork and communication. We built an environment in which no one is afraid to ask in case of doubts or ask simply for help with the case or a process, as such. Our team members know that our managers are approachable and ready to give advice. For example, personally, I have every second Thursday “Open Door day” where I have allocated a slot for anyone to come to me and discuss whatever topic he wishes to talk about. Personal or work-related.
What are you most passionate about outside of your work?
My favourite way to relax after work is a sports activity. I like running (despite the fact I’m a slow runner) and 2-3 times a week I do CrossFit and once a week I have a lesson with the trainer to help me with the weightlifting technique. These training sessions are still not easy for me, however, I really enjoy them. During these activities, I can completely “turn off”. Back in Slovakia, in my parent’s house, I have a dog and when I’m at home I love to spend time with her, walking her in the forest and similar. She is such an amazing dog :).
What is your biggest motivation when it comes to working?
I’m very much driven by the success of our team. We have a great team and it’s important for me that our team members have everything they need to complete the tasks they receive and they enjoy working in our team. Last and this year were challenging, our team is still very much focusing on getting refunds from the airlines for our customers and this can be quite frustrating after some time. I’m very proud that our team members are aware it is important to finish all these refunds and they are persistent.
Also, yearly we have a company-wide satisfaction survey and our team has a very good satisfaction level with positive feedback from the team members. To see that people are happy with the team and its management – is my motivation boost. Despite it makes me happy they are satisfied within our team, I am also excited when our team members have career growth within the company. Recently, one of the team members was promoted to a different role within the company and I received from her a really nice message – a thank you note for being her manager and supporting her development. That’s with no doubt the biggest reward for me.
And the last question, what is your biggest motivation when it comes to life in general?
What propels and motivates me is to become the best version of myself.
Interested in joining Paulina’s awesome team and boosting your career in GDS? Hurry up and check our open positions!