On Friday, 20th March 2020 Australia’s international borders were shut as the government scrambled to protect the nation against COVID-19. States followed suit and overnight the travel industry was hit with a 95% drop in domestic travel. Dean Brazier, managing director of a cruise line, was one man caught up in the catastrophe.
But rather than sit around and do nothing Dean decided to turn his hand to something new and transition into a different role. With the support of the South Australian Police and Randstad, Dean found that many of his skills and passions for travel could easily be transferred to the role of border control officer.
Dean and his family immigrated to Australia from England in 2008, chasing the sunshine and the good life. Working as a travel agent, running his own tour operation in the UK, Dean had spent his life-giving people the joy of travel - a career that had brought him fulfilment.
The move to Australia led him to be offered the role of managing director for the Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Australian Operation. During his time there, Dean opened a new office in Adelaide, hired employees, trained them up and created a small team with a family feel.
But with the pandemic and the world in lockdown Dean’s company went into liquidation. The industry that Dean loved had ground to a halt, with little opportunity to take similar roles elsewhere. Dean says he took a big knock to his confidence.
All of my staff and I were made redundant. Through the government job keeper scheme, we were able to pay our staff up until their final week, so they wouldn’t be out of pocket. Everyone had their long service leave and redundancy paid out. Unfortunately, as a company director, I wasn’t entitled to any of that. It was an awful time as nobody could travel. I decided to take some time out and like everyone else I applied for Job Seeker.
After taking a few months to regroup, Dean was back looking for work. Anything to keep him going.
I had an open mind, but I think people’s perception of my age is why I struggled to get a foot in the door. I think hiring managers might have looked at my age and experience and thought that I wouldn’t want to do a lower role as I had been a company managing director. But that’s not the case. I was willing to do any work just to get out there and be amongst people. I wanted to get my confidence back and get going again.
While many lost their jobs due to COVID, many sectors saw growth in response to the pandemic. Interstate border control was one area in high demand. Working with South Australia Police, Randstad was tasked with sourcing workers for roles based at Adelaide Airport.
For many Australians, skills in customer service, attention to detail and problem-solving are easily transferable between job types. So, with Randstad’s knowledge of the talent market in Australia, the team worked with S.A. Police cast their job search widely beyond the traditional pool of talent.
S.A. Police Superintendent, Narelle Keminar says that the new government-created roles have been a source of intermittent work for job seekers. Largely for people whose industries had been affected by the pandemic.
In South Australia, we have been placed under the emergency management act. So whilst the agency in control of the pandemic here is S.A. Health, the police play a very important role to keep South Australians safe. That means that we have people that work in medihotels, we have staff at airports, on our road borders and doing all logistic functions.
And that’s where Randstad along with other agencies have been involved in supplying suitable staff to assist with those duties, where they don’t necessarily need to be performed by a police officer. We have a lot of airline staff, travel industry workers that were displaced when covid happened.
They are used to working at the airport and in customer service, they have those skills to understand and interpret the legislation. So to be able to provide them with employment was fantastic
After seeing a job ad for the role Dean sent in his resume which landed on the desk of Randstad Recruitment Consultant, Shannon Jarvis. Knowing the challenges of the role and the type of people skills needed, Shannon says she saw the value in Dean’s experience.
‘People are coming in from flights and then being told they would need to quarantine for two weeks. Dealing with conflict resolution and being resilient were the key attributes we needed’, she says.
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with Dean’s love of the industry and passion for providing exceptional experiences for travellers, he was a perfect fit.
So now, if you should be lucky enough to travel to South Australia you may meet Dean at the border control of Adelaide Airport. Ensuring QR codes are scanned and no virus enters the state, behind a fluoro vest and protective goggles are the former CEO of a cruise line company. On the front line in the state’s battle against COVID, border control is an important role that Dean can take pride in. But having an essential role and being around people is what truly keeps his spirits up.
You see the aircraft arriving, smiling faces of the passengers coming home or coming in for a wine region trip. Friends and family reunited at the gates - that’s very uplifting
dean says his new role has been a lifesaver.
“It’s helping to cover my bills. And the people that I’m working with are really nice. They’ve all come from various backgrounds, with many having lost their work through COVID. This is a way back for them, it’s been really good.’
This year, Dean celebrated his 62nd birthday for which his wife threw him a surprise party with his old cruise line team along with his family. There is still a sense of comradery among them that no pandemic could change. And there’s a feeling that things are looking up for travel industry workers.
Along with many tourism operators, his former company, under new ownership and a new name, is slowly reopening its UK operation.
In Australia, domestic tourism numbers are increasing when state borders are open. Moreover, the vaccination rollout seems to be picking up pace intending to open international borders in 2022. Dean’s former staff are hoping to be back to their old jobs under his captaincy soon.