[Alumni Story] Charlotte KAZMIERCZAK: travel with a twist

After eight years in digital marketing and working on a humanitarian project in Costa Rica, Charlotte KAZMIERCZAK (who graduated the Grande École Program in 2017) was looking for a new professional challenge. Her love of globe-trotting, her passion for meticulously planning her trips and her growing ecological awareness helped her find an unexpected new vocation…

Your commitment to the environment emerged while working at Tikamoon. Can you tell us more?
Before I joined Tikamoon, I was already very interested in the company, which I knew about through Maxence VANDERSWALMEN (who graduated the Grande École Program in 2014). His mission to offer eco-responsible, high-quality furniture at good prices made me want to be part of his venture. Working at Tikamoon made me realise that I needed to do my bit for the planet. It was watching the film ‘Breaking Boundaries’ at an afterwork event that gave me the idea: it was a wake-up call and I decided to join an ecological project. While browsing the website, I came across the Jamso Trainee Association in Costa Rica, which was offering work on a nature reserve in April 2022. There was a variety of hands-on jobs on offer, so I didn’t hesitate.

How were your first few days there?
Leaving on my own for an unknown country, I had a few misgivings, but they quickly disappeared. I spent my first night staying in the home of a local person and was touched by the warmth of the welcome I received. The next day, after travelling all day (by bus, boat and then by bus again), I finally reached the nature reserve. The five volunteers were sorting through rubbish they’d collected the day before and gave me time to settle in and get my bearings. I remember being struck by the sounds of the jungle in the middle of the night: it took a little time to get used to. The day started at 6 am with a superb breakfast of fresh produce, then we worked from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm. This left us time to read a good book or enjoy the sea view from a hammock at the end of the day. It was a great way to combine work with pleasure…

What jobs did you do and how would you sum up this humanitarian project?
Every day was different! I cleaned the beach, sawed and sanded planks of wood, painted stones to create a car park for visitors, dug gutters in the footpaths and welcomed travellers, and let’s not forget the daily housework. I also took part in cultural afternoons during which the volunteers presented the specialities of their country. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience, in terms of the landscapes, the animals, the people I met and the work I did. It took me out of my comfort zone and there really was a before and after…


In what way?
I didn’t immediately notice how the experience had changed me. It took a few months before it really clicked: I wanted to do something more tangible, to continue to think outside the box and contribute in my own way to a more sustainable world. I felt proud to be part of a company that shared my values, but I no longer felt comfortable with digital marketing. It was quite a complicated period because I’d been working in this field for eight years and I couldn’t see what else I could do. I spent six months carrying out a skills assessment, which helped me learn a lot about myself and my aspirations. That’s how I came up with the idea of going into tourism and helping travellers to organise their holidays in a more responsible way.

What happened next and how did you turn the idea into reality?
When I announced my departure, the whole Tikamoon team was very understanding and encouraging. I didn’t have any thoughts of setting up my own business and was initially thinking of joining a company offering eco-responsible travel. In the end, I got an incredible opportunity thanks to Jean-Marc PIATEK (Grande École Program – 1994) who put me in touch with Anne-Sophie DUPIRE, one of France’s first travel planners and creator of the Travel For You brand. She was looking for people to develop the ecotourism part of her business under a brand licensing agreement. We got to know each other and immediately wanted to work together. I set up my own business and became a travel planner in my own right. I could never have foreseen it happening and that’s the beauty of this venture.

What does a travel planner do?
The role of a travel planner is to prepare and organise trips for clients to meet their expectations as closely as possible. They don’t want to go through travel agencies or spend hours looking for the best deals or activities to do when they get there. The keywords in this business are made-to-measure, attentiveness and responsiveness. My particular speciality is to offer ecotourism holidays.

Is it possible to reconcile tourism with ecology? How do you go about it?
Ecotourism doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop travelling abroad, because many countries depend on tourism for their livelihood. First and foremost it’s a state of mind: you can reduce your travel, choose eco-friendly transport (trains, bicycle, etc.) and slow tourism to support the local economy, and stay in accommodation that provides decent working conditions for its employees and takes ecological issues into account. More and more travellers are thinking about these things, and one of the challenges facing my sector today is how to combine eco-responsibility with affordability. It’s absurd that flying can cost less than taking the train…

What will be the next step in your entrepreneurial adventures?
Without wishing to count my chickens, I’m feeling confident. Whatever happens, I’ll never regret that I gave it a go. I’ve still got lots of ideas for changing the way we travel while wasting as few of the planet’s resources as possible. In particular, I hope in the future to offer holidays that include a few days working on an ecological project to help a local charity. I’m a great believer in the potential of this idea, which fits the aspirations of a growing number of holidaymakers. I’d really advise as many people as possible to try something like this at least once in their lives.

Career path

After graduating from IÉSEG in 2017 with a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing which she did as a work-study programme in partnership with the mail-order giant La Redoute, Charlotte joined the team in charge of the company’s Italian and German websites.
In 2020, she joined Tikamoon as Traffic Acquisition Manager for all the company’s European websites. April 2022 was a turning point: she used her leave to go on a humanitarian mission to Costa Rica. A year later, she embarked on a brand new project, setting up her own business as a travel planner

This article was written by Luna Créations for IÉSEG Network’s magazine, IÉS #17.

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