Steve Applebaum Qantus Graduate Image

Steve Applebaum

Macquarie University
Graduate: Group Strategy

Why were you interested in a graduate position with Qantas?

I initially did an internship with the company, which gave me an opportunity to learn more about it and what a fascinating industry the airline business is. I fell in love with it – and felt that it was a company I wanted to work for. 

Best part of the job?
Becoming a real part of the company. And being an insider: One day on the train going to work, a Qantas A380 flew overhead while approaching a landing in Sydney. As I listened to comments from passengers around me about the plane, I mentioned that it was the QF2 flying in from London/Dubai and began answering questions around how many seats it had, how many A380’s we had and so on. Everyone was listening intently and genuinely curious; it was great to be able to have all that knowledge.

How does the Qantas grad program work?
It provides exposure to a wide variety of roles and learning, which is a great thing about graduate programs overall. I have had exposure to a variety of areas and functions, including: domestic customer experience, while working with the team that runs operations at Sydney’s domestic terminal; international revenue management including pricing and inventory strategy for international routes, international sales (based in Auckland, New Zealand) and now group strategy, supporting the entire Qantas group.

When I started I had no idea, career-wise, what I wanted to do. Now I have a better idea, at least to start. I also know where I need to improve and expand my range of skills. 

What kind of support do you get?
The support is great across the entire organisation. Graduates are encouraged to approach all staff to ask questions about their role. Grads are given a mentor; most of us have regular catch-ups with our mentor or manager.  On the other hand, to really take advantage of the experience requires a mixture of Qantas support and taking your own initiative. My manager has been great in helping select my rotations. The result is a great balance of making graduates and the company happy.

Any surprises?
How complex it all is. When I was working at Sydney’s domestic terminal and learned how complex an operation it was, I couldn’t believe that any planes actually left on time.

Also, the level of responsibility I have been given has been a surprise (I thought that only the really smart people got to do these jobs). For example, on my last rotation, I was involved in controlling the pricing and inventory for our Sydney-Auckland services (approximately 150 flights) during the peak December/January period.

What have been the biggest challenges?
Coping with responsibility right from the start. And learning how to work in a corporate environment – including knowing what you can and can’t do, understanding normal company processes and other basics, such as protocol of how meetings are run.

Luckily my manager is always there for support.

Highlights thus far?
The obvious things, standing on the tarmac in front of a huge A380; learning about aircraft by seeing them in action. Also, having real responsibility and being accountable. The program has also given me a chance to try out moving to and living in a different country.

How about the perks?

I didn’t really think about them when I applied, but obviously the opportunity for heavily discounted travel is a perk like no other. I have definitely taken advantage of it – so far I have been to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

Did anything at university help your prepare for your role?
I did a lot of group work at university; which has been helpful as we do a lot of work as a group here. Having work experience (I worked in hospitality, as a concierge, while I studied) was useful, especially for getting an internship. It helped me hone my skills with customers and working with people.

However, there are a few things I wish I had learned more about at university, especially how to use Excel, which is a crucial part of my job. It is a skill I have had to learn on the job. Also, better skills at dealing with people. Obviously this isn’t something that is specifically taught at uni, but something that you have to practice and learn as you go.

How’s the work/life balance?
It’s fantastic.