Career recalibration positions SAIT grad to the pinnacle of tech and tourism

How a SAIT education helped Luis Alves land at one of the world’s largest travel booking sites,
How a SAIT education helped Luis Alves land at one of the world’s largest travel booking sites,

Luis Alves always thought he’d work in international relations, focused on the ways that countries connect and interact.

In a way, he was right — just not the way he expected.

Today Alves’ work is about connections between countries, but as a senior account manager, the focus is on helping people explore new places, while supporting Canadian accommodations, from hotels to homes.

“I’ve always had a passion for travel,” he says. “I had never thought of it as a profession until doing research at SAIT. Once I saw the Travel and Tourism diploma program, I realized out of everything, I identified with it the most.”

Originally from Brazil, Alves moved to Calgary — where his father had been living for two years — to study English and perhaps build on the international relations classes he’d been taking at university.

A chance trip to SAIT’s campus, with its juxtaposition of historic buildings and modern structures, set Alves on an entirely new journey.

“Some of the biggest tipping points come by accident,” says Alves. “It was not the initial plan to study travel and tourism at SAIT, but it became the plan.”

Now, more than a decade later, Alves says his time studying at SAIT is one of his fondest memories.

He not only dove into the hands-on coursework, embracing the small class sizes and instruction from industry-honed experts, but got involved in Saitsa, the institution’s student government, working first in the Resource Centre and ultimately getting elected to an executive position shortly after graduation.

“The opportunities I had through that role with Saitsa — travelling across the country, lobbying at Parliament — are experiences I will use all through my career. I learned about leadership, negotiation, communication.”

That, along with the diverse skills he gained from the program, prepared him for the next steps in his education — earning a bachelor degree in tourism management from Vancouver Island University — and, ultimately, his work with where he began doing bookings in the accommodations department and now leads a team of account managers.

“SAIT was the perfect foundation for my career. The concepts I learned within sales, accounting, ticketing and entrepreneurship really helped shape my holistic approach to business.”

He plans to continue moving up the ranks and seeing where the international company may lead him. But, he adds, his dream job is to open his own resort with his wife.

In the meantime, he maintains a close connection to the institution that has allowed him to carve a path in an industry he loves, keeping in touch with fellow grads and speaking at the School of Hospitality and Tourism’s annual HOSPO networking and career fair event.

“Every opportunity I have to give back, I do.”

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