By day, she’s the Vice President of Supplier Relations at Fareportal (parent company of the online travel agency CheapOair). By night and weekend, she is a painting, jewelry-making, yoga-practicing globetrotter. With her roots planted in Ecuador and a budding success story in the U.S., join us as we delve into the life of multi-talented, first-generation Hispanic American, Carolina Serrano.

Read on to find out more about her journey to success, her take on the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month and her advice to the Hispanic American youth of today.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I’m from Quito, Ecuador and I am blessed with an amazing, large family. Much of my family still resides in Quito – which, as you may know, is surrounded by the breathtaking Andes Mountains. As a child, my grandparents had a hacienda (farm) where I use to spend a lot of time with my entire family and would ride and take care of our horses. So growing up there felt like a constant adventure — always fun and exciting!

Pictures of Carolina with her family (left, and top right) and her hometown Quito, Ecuador (bottom right).

Since my country {Ecuador} is a popular (and stunning!) tourist destination, my love for travel started at a young age and only grew from there; I’ve just always felt passionate about it. So much so, that I even majored in it in college. I have a B.A. in Tourism and Travel Management, and after college, I was given an opportunity to work for American Airlines. That’s where my travel industry career started. I later worked for a corporate travel agency only to find that my appetite for both travel and success was still growing, so I decided to come to the U.S. to further my studies and pursue a career here. 14 years later, here I am!

Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

A: To me, my Hispanic heritage gives me an immense sense of pride to be a Latina. Not only do I love Ecuador, but I love all the countries within Latin America and hold Hispanic people, culture, traditions and food to the highest esteem!

My culture taught (and continues to teach) me to love my family and be kind to others. Growing up, we never missed an opportunity to give back to our community and an important part of my culture is to remember and help others who are less fortunate than me. And to me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of those lessons, those customs and those practices.

Q: Have you ever visited a site of Hispanic heritage before? Tell us about your favorite trip of all the ones that you’ve ever taken.

A: I had the opportunity to travel to Machu Picchu, which was a tremendous learning experience. It’s amazing how progressive the Incas were; so advanced beyond their time, without any of the modern technologies that we have today.

Carolina’s pictures from her Galapagos adventures.

I consider myself a frequent traveler, so it’s hard to tell you what my favorite trip was. But being from Ecuador and having the privilege of being only a short distance from the Galapagos Islands, I have to say this place would definitely be in the top of my list! The Galapagos is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it consists of 20 islands, each one different and diverse from the other! How do I describe the Galapagos? The only thing I can relate it to is the feeling of being in a live, outdoor marine zoo. When you’re there, you really feel connected to the marine, reptile and land animals as well as the birds, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. All the animals there live freely and are not afraid of humans, it was amazing!

Machu Picchu, Peru

Q: What has been the most memorable part of your career? Do you feel that Hispanics are well represented in the travel industry?

A: My career has taken me to many places and new heights along the way, but the best part of it so far has been my time at Fareportal. Here, I get to be part of and grow with one of the top 3 OTAs in the U.S.! I really enjoy developing strong relationships with my suppliers and working closely with them to build on the existing and create new streams of revenue for the company.

Do I think Hispanics are well represented in this industry? In general, yes. But perhaps not as much in senior- or executive-level positions – it would be great to see more people in those kinds of roles, especially women!

Q: If you weren’t working in travel, what would your dream job be?

A: I’d love to work in philanthropy, so I could spend my time helping the less fortunate. In particular, I’d want to help the children in Ecuador who are growing up impoverished and in poor families. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many instances where children want to learn and go to school but because of their lack of funds, they can’t afford an education. Children need proper education to prepare themselves for the future so that they can be successful and eventually, give back to their family and community. Without it, they have no way to help others grow and succeed and the cycle of poverty just continues.

A few pieces of Carolina’s handmade jewelry.

 

Fun Fact: When she’s not working, Carolina focuses on Reiki, Kundalini Yoga and Feng Shui. She also loves to paint and make Jewelry!

Q: Were there any resources you wish you had while trying to get to where you are now that you think young Hispanics of today have? What still isn’t available for young Hispanics that you’d like to see?

A: Although, I did have a great support system; I was very close to my family and had them to turn to always, which definitely helped, I really didn’t have a mentor when I started out in this industry. I think having someone to mentor me from a professional standpoint would have been really helpful to me back then.

I still don’t see enough mentoring. If successful people in the industry offered guidance and support to the younger generations from an early age, they’d have the tools they need to thrive in this industry and in life in general.

Q: What advice can you offer to young Hispanic business professionals who want to work in the travel industry and aspire to become an executive like yourself?

A: First, never give up. Second, you have to work hard and create your own opportunities — remember, no one is going to come and hand you what you want, you have to earn it. To be successful in the travel industry you must be passionate about your work and provide excellent customer service to create a great rapport with your internal and external customers. Most importantly — never stop learning! Take advantage of any opportunity to enhance and advance yourself through education that comes your way.

Looking for more inspirational stories like Carolina’s? To read more captivating posts like this one, check out our Hispanic Heritage Month homepage!

One Response

  1. José

    Que historia más interesante.realmente hay que reconocer el trabajo esfuerzo y dedicación que ha puesto Carolina no hago más que sentir el orgullo de latino cuando conozco historias como esta y felicito de todo corazón a Carolina.que siga por la senda del triunfo y demuestre lo mucho que podemos aportar los latinos en este y cualquier negocio.

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About The Author

Tasmiah Rashid

In a past life, Tasmiah was either a Bollywood actress, renowned ethnographer or master chef; no questions asked. In this one, she is a shower-singing, croissant enthusiast, who also writes content for Fareportal, in that order.