HAZEL Florita-Tagimacruz is a working woman’s inspiration.

Although she is with Cathay Pacific, she did not start out her professional career working in the airline industry. Hazel’s first job was with a bank, assigned to its loans department. The business management graduate recalls going home late at night every day, sometimes as late as 11, as she still had to account for the day’s transactions before she could leave the workplace.

After some time, she decided to try the airline industry. She was somewhat familiar with aviation as her father, the late engineer Ramon Florita, was an aircraft engineer working with the air force for 20 years, before moving to Singapore Aerospace, maintaining fighter jets.

Hazel applied in Cathay Pacific and was accepted as a trainee for six months and was assigned to cargo sales. After six months, she took the opportunity to join Malaysian Airlines where her manager, Jane Pia Bouffard, mentored her and helped her to learn the ins and outs of the industry. Hazel stayed with Malaysian Airlines until it closed, and then took the opportunity to rejoin Cathay Pacific which was in need of a sales person. She worked with reservations for a while, then with passenger sales, until she became a supervisor. Today, she is Cathay Pacific Cebu’s district sales and marketing manager, overseeing Davao operations as well.

Hazel cited three reasons for loving the airline industry, particularly Cathay Pacific.

First, the benefit of travel. As Cathay Pacific opens new destinations every year, this meant new places to visit, new cultures to discover, new people to encounter. This year, Cathay started to fly to Washington and Seattle in the United States, and in November, it will have seasonal flights to Cape Town in South Africa.

Second, is the team.

“If you look at every individual in the team, it’s not just about work but it’s like family. This is a team that makes you feel good. It feels like you’re family.” By “team,” she means not just the sales team which she heads but also the other teams of the airline: cargo, airport and engineering.

Third, she cites: “Despite duty travels, I can still find time to balance work and family (husband Neil, her two daughters, and another one coming soon). Sometimes, it’s not about having the time but finding the time. My work allows me to do both.”

Hazel said that in her time in the industry, she found friendships, and has had good relations with the people: travel agents, corporate clients... “even the other airline people, even if they are our competition,” she said. “In Cebu, even if there’s stiff competition, the airline people have, among themselves, a good relationship.”

Hazel is excited not just about the new Cathay Pacific destinations but also about the robust travel industry. In fact this summer, the airline has two daily flights to Hong Kong, while Cathay Dragon flies four times weekly to Hong Kong.

For someone who started out in a bank processing loans, Hazel F. Tagimacruz has found her niche in the airline industry, sending travelers, via Cathay Pacific, to all parts of the world.