Active Board of Director: Tim Sweeney
Chief Product Delivery Officer, WorldStrides
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
The majority of my volunteer time has been in Haiti supporting the Haiti180 foundation. I have been traveling there for the past 10years with my family helping with infrastructure projects, building an orphanage and elderly housing and most recently a medical clinic. Working with and getting to know the people in the community has been an amazing experience for us as a family and watching our kids grow into good global citizens has been priceless. In addition, we do a lot of work in our local community supporting and volunteering to help homeless shelters, food banks and other projects. At WorldStrides, we have done some volunteer work in the local Charlottesville community supporting the Boys and Girls clubs and local food banks. From a fundraising standpoint, I have been riding the Pan Mass Challenge for the past few years. The PMC is the largest single day fundraiser in the US with all proceeds going to Cancer research.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I joined the National Educational Travel Council (NETC) in 1998 overseeing Operations and Client Services. NETC sold High School educational travel programs with primary destination focus on Europe, Latin America and Asia. I was a principal owner with strong experience working at a small Tour Operator through the start up years. I worked at NETC until acquisition by WorldStrides in 2012.At WorldStrides, I have been overseeing company-wide product delivery for all our K12 and Higher Ed business units including all Air and Land Procurement, Fulfilment and Ground Operations. I have been on the Executive team at WorldStrides for the past few years working closely with our Private Equity partners.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
Navigating the student tourism landscape during my career has been incredibly rewarding but has had its challenges. From 9/11, to Icelandic Volcanos, H1N1, Mad Cow and most recently navigating COVID and the WorldStrides Bankruptcy process, I believe I bring a strong level of Student industry and organizational experience to SYTA. In addition, I have been on both sides of the acquisition table selling NETC and being the operational point for all WorldStrides acquisitions over the past 11 years. I also spend a lot of time in the field meeting hundreds of clients each year at International conferences and meeting groups in key cities around the world.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Active).
SYTA plays a very important role in the Student Travel industry and I believe in the mission and purpose. I would like to bring my years of experience to SYTA to hopefully build on the legacy and help play a role in guiding the student travel industry for generations to come. I believe COVID has changed our industry and want to assist in helping to define what the industry will look like in a few years ensuring the health & safety of our students while developing strong global citizens. I also like the idea of WorldStrides playing a bigger partner role with SYTA and hope my involvement will help facilitate. I believe all our industry travel programs should be accessible to everyone and love how SYTA is supporting this mission through its Youth Foundation. The St Augustine quote perfectly reflects why I feel we have an obligation to help students see the world via the global classroom
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
COVID is the major challenge at the moment and something which will continue to impact the travel industry for years. I believe SYTA can further build as an industry leader with more defined H&S guidelines and standards giving more schools and universities confidence to travel. I also think we have a lot of companies (tour operators and suppliers) who are financially and emotionally struggling at the moment. I would like to understand how SYTA can help support/encourage until we see business start to materialize. I also think COVID has permanently changed the student travel landscape and SYTA has an opportunity to be a strong voice and leader in how we can successfully build back and help play a role in defining what the market, industry and product will look like.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?
Thank you for your consideration.