You can accomplish a lot in 4 years, right? Since 2013, I’ve moved jobs once, moved house twice and had two kids. Not bad? Edie Rodriguez, CEO of Crystal Cruises, has taken the brand from a 2 ship operation, owned by the world’s largest operator of container ships, and turned it into a fleet of gold standard service (bought by Genting Hong Kong for US$550m), encompassing – astonishingly – river cruises, its own aircraft, yacht cruises, and 144 multi-million dollar on-board residences… thankfully, I was the one asking her the questions…
“I don’t know if I’m the hardest working but I am a workaholic and i love it. With modern technology connecting us all over the world, you really have to be ready, willing and able to work 24/7, 365 or you will fall behind. But I love what I do. I was told as a young child: find your passion, get a great education and follow it. This industry has always been my passion, and I followed that advice. I’ve been blessed with a 35-year career and not one day does it ever feel like work.
I really didn’t always want to be a CEO, that wasn’t my goal or the end game. What I did always want was to travel the world, and I wanted to do it in the most luxurious way possible. So that’s really how I said, OK I’m going start out as travel consultant. As of today, I’ve only been to 100 countries and, at the last count, there are 195 countries in the world, so I still have a long way to go.
I am perpetually setting new goals for myself; I have several “mini mantras” that keep me motivated. One of them is, “I wanna grow until I go”. I am fortunate to have accomplished many of my goals, but I will always have 10 more waiting in the wings.
If you don’t love what you are doing get out and do something else, life is too short. I learned that at a young age and it has stuck with me. It’s better to dare to fail than fail to dare. Have I made mistakes and wished I’d done some things differently? Yes. But everything was a blessing in disguise because it led to something else.
I won’t walk through my door until about midnight tonight, and pretty much every day is like that, whether I’m travelling around the world or not. But I always tell my team, just because I send an email at 4 a.m. doesn’t mean I expect a response at 4 a.m. I realise I am not the norm – and I absolutely understand and support the work-life balance of my team. But, for me, at this stage in my career, now that my son is grown and on his own, and mostly because I love my work so much, I am often happiest when I’m working. If I still had a young child at home, my priorities would be different. In fact, I made choices early on… I declined some opportunities because my first priority was my child. I always said, when he goes away to University, if the right opportunity comes along, it will be different then. I don’t regret that I didn’t become President or CEO 10 or 15 years earlier because I raised my son and that was what I wanted to do.
One of my biggest professional challenges is the current global geo-political situation, sadly, with ongoing terrorist activities. We (Crystal) are fortunate to have movable assets, whether it’s our vessels or our aircraft, we can re-assess and recreate itineraries fairly quickly to ensure our guests’ safety for myriad reasons – a natural disaster, a political situation, a terrorist situation. We are not going there, we will not put our guests in any situation of even questionable security.”
Edie Rodriguez is a regular attendee of ILTM, Cannes.