Adéla Malátová is a Customer Support Specialist at Kiwi.com. Travelling and exploring other cultures is her second nature so when an opportunity to visit our vendor site in the Philippines arose, she didn’t give it a second thought.
The story begins – September, Porto, Portugal
I was sitting on the beach in sunny Porto, sunbathing, trying to catch the best shots of the surfers and, as usual, thinking about travelling. Porto was the midpoint on my three part trip from Paris to Lisbon; You know, for a passionate traveler, one destination is not enough.
Imagine your vacation: laying on the beach, blissful peace, and just the sound of the waves–that Hakuna Matata feeling…and suddenly you get the back to the reality SMS from your team manager “Call me as soon as possible, I have something important to tell you.”
Even though I am usually a positive person, in my mind were the worst scenarios. Immediately, I called back, and he told me there was an opportunity to go to the Philippines as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to offer training support for our new employees, and I was on the list of the candidates! “Would you be interested…?” I was in shock and before giving my team manager the chance to finish his sentence, I screamed down the phone “YES, sure! I want to go! Just tell me when!” –To give a bit of background to this situation, I’ve been telling my colleagues since day one that I desperately wanted to connect my job at Kiwi.com to my biggest passion in life, travelling.–After just about managing to calm me down, my team manager advised me that I would be interviewed…tomorrow.
The interview on the go – September, Lisbon, Portugal
The next day, I was departing from Porto to Lisbon, and guess what–I got a call at the airport. I had around twenty minutes before my flight departed to fight my corner, trying to express why I should be given this opportunity! It was a real challenge to focus on giving a great speech, while doing my best to keep a stable wifi connection and keeping an eye on the boarding status at the same time, but I was speaking with enthusiasm and determination–I can’t express how much I wanted this extraordinary personal and professional challenge. As soon as the interview finished, I rushed to the gate, holding my phone in one hand and my carry-on in the other. I was a nervous PAPATA (in Kiwi.com language: passenger at the airport). This was not only due to the fact that my departure to Lisbon was in less than five minutes, but also because I was hoping and praying for my Filipino dream to become reality.
Challenge accepted – October, Manila, Philippines
“Will you manage to pack your luggage in one week?” I answered with a trembling voice; I could not believe that it was really happening. This was the moment I had been waiting for. One week later, I was standing in Václav Havel Airport Prague with three other lucky colleagues, about to embark on our Filipino adventure to support our new colleagues in Manila.
We spent around 16 hours in the air on our journey to the otherside of the world with a stop in Dubai to offer a bit of respite. Arriving in Manila, were faced with a seven hour time difference, 29 degree heat and unbearable humidity. In the Philippines, the rainy season lasts from May till mid October, so we experienced a few downpours from time to time.
Our Gradbay mission in Manila was to provide support to Kiwi.com’s Back Office newcomers. Back Office is an essential team at Kiwi.com; it’s where bookings and additional orders from our passengers are processed. Our aim is to deliver the best service to our customers, and this requires serious Back Office skills and know-how in order to be able to solve various travel orders and situations.
A trainer’s life ain’t easy – October, Manila, Philippines
To be able to provide our newcomers with all the support they needed, we had to build up quite a serious working rhythm. Waking up early in the morning, being fully focused on the challenge and helping our newbies in the office through various means including meetings, workshops, recaps, and putting it all into practice by testing four waves of the brand-new Back Office warriors. According to the popular Kiwi.com quote “going the extra mile”, our work finished long after our shift at the office did, we continued with the preparation for the following day long into the night at our temporary homes.
Explaining the complex Back Office processes to our newbies was a challenge. It demanded endless patience, but most of all it required flexibility–making ourselves available as needed per the schedule and recognising which approach to take in order to avoid any misunderstanding. The cultural barrier can be tricky if you consider different perceptions, training and learning conditions, habits and the environment that surrounded us. Each of the SMEs had practical experience, which did however vary slightly, but we were able to combine these different experiences, gather our knowledge and create the whole Gradbay support package. It included everything from Back Office related tips and tricks to solving recurring obstacles and country dependent restrictions to improving required booking skills of newbies. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. We gave our newbies the platform to try different tasks repeatedly and most importantly, avoid common beginner mistakes with the help our coaching.
For all of the SMEs, it was our first experience with opening a new Back office. But without challenge there is no progress, and this is what we preached to our new employees. Besides hard work and going the extra mile, the key ingredient in Kiwi.com is the teamwork. Together with the Training, Quality, and Development Teams and our hardworking newbies, we fulfilled our mission.
Home, sweet home – November, Brno, Czech Republic
As this working adventure came to an end, we started packing our bags as we prepared to return to Brno’s reality. As the Filipinos would say: Enjoy the moment, and we truly did. I got the chance to teach and support our new employees, help Kiwi.com open the first overseas Back office, develop my skills, and top of all that, I got to travel.
After four working weeks our bodies craved for some relaxation and just like most Kiwi.com employee hearts, ours beat for travel and adventure. Luckily, there was some time left.
Remember, never give up on your dreams, no matter how hard or twisted it gets, just grab any chance that comes your way and go the extra mile – it is never crowded.