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Meet the international student who arrived in NZ alone and anxious, and is now Head of Operations in her dream job!

Posted on 09/11/2022 by

Lesly Dihayco graduated from ITC over a decade ago, and is now working in her dream job.

Lesly Dihayco was an international student at ITC over a decade ago. She arrived in New Zealand not knowing anyone, and not really knowing what she wanted to do.

ITC helped with both problems immediately!

One of our friendly team members was at the airport to welcome her to Aotearoa and ITC, and our fantastic courses quickly gave her the insight she needed to choose and chase a career. She decided on working in travel agencies, and her career since then has been an impressive journey that has landed her in her dream job (as Head of Operations, no less).

As usual, it’s a tale best heard in her own words:

When and what did you study with ITC? What highlights do you remember about studying with us?

I joined ITC back in 2008. Initially, I only wanted to do it for the experience so I just enrolled in a six-month course, which was ITC Certificate in Travel & Tourism.

Before I even finished the course, I decided to enrol for the next course as well for another six months, which was ITC Certificate in International Travel & Tourism. I think the main highlight is how warm, welcoming, and accommodating everyone was, staff and students alike.

Because it was my first time in a new country by myself with no friends, family or relatives with me, I was anxious (excited but anxious!) as I did not know what to expect. But right from the moment I entered the arrivals lounge at the airport, someone from ITC (Lisa) was there to welcome me. She was also the one communicating with me and guiding me throughout the enrolment process and my student visa application.

It didn’t take long for me to get into the hang of things because everyone made it so easy for me to adjust despite being homesick most of the time.  

How do you feel your qualifications with ITC prepared you for your career?

ITC helped me gain the confidence and courage that I needed. Like I mentioned, I was very apprehensive when I first arrived in New Zealand; but after one year in ITC, I felt like I was ready to take on anything that life could throw at me. 

By way of the Industry Expo, it also opened my eyes into the industry and the vast amount of career options that were available; yet at the same time, it made me realise more that I wanted to work in a travel agency. 

What have you been up to since you graduated?

Even before studying in ITC, I was always drawn to Travel Agencies and was always interested to find out how they operate. So suffice it to say, a travel agency job was my first choice.

While I was on the job-hunt, I was receiving offers from different companies which were not travel-related, but I was always holding out for that travel agency job. It took some time, but I finally landed an offer for a permanent position in the beginning of 2013, and I worked my way up through three different travel agencies, from a Customer Services Officer, to a Corporate Travel Consultant, and now as Head of Operations.

I’m currently in my fourth year in Falcon Travel Qatar, and have been Head of Operations for almost one year. I’m proud to say that I now know how a travel agency operates.

What tips do you give others who look to progress in their career or wish to get that promotion?

Cliché as it may be, I think hard work and perseverance is key.

Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of difficult customers and have made countless mistakes; but those are what pushed me to be better because I wanted to show my manager that I had the drive and determination.

Maintain a strong work ethic and you’ll get there. It also helps if you actually like your job and the people you’re working with. Harmony in the workplace is so important because the employees tend to be more motivated and productive in their work.

Would you have any words of wisdom for those looking to get into a career like yours?

Be positive; it’s amazing how far being positive can take you. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows right from the get-go, but having a positive mindset will improve the way people view you as a person and they will be more inclined to help you succeed.

Travel Agents in general are highly organised, they possess great people and communication skills, and they have a desire to help others; so I suggest honing these skills.

Where to from here? What’s coming up for you in your career? Any exciting things ahead?

It’s an exciting time for Qatar right now with the FIFA World Cup fast approaching, and tourism in the region is booming. More and more people who did not know about Qatar before are only now learning about this small country here in the Middle East. In light of this and because of the government’s investment of about USD 220 billion in infrastructure and hospitality set-ups for the past 12 years, I believe we have a golden opportunity in 2023 to continue promoting Qatar as a tourist destination.

Qatar also just won the bid to host another major football tournament next year, the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

On a side note, Qatar Airways is looking to hire at least 10,000 staff as part of the World Cup 2022 preparations. The hiring is to ensure Qatar Airways is prepared to handle the inflow of passengers for the football tournament and to accommodate the post-pandemic expansion. For those interested, the current vacancies are listed on their website at

Considering a big move to study in New Zealand?

Lesly moved to New Zealand by herself to study with ITC. After being alone and anxious at first, she found a welcoming family from the moment she stepped off the plane (literally!). We truly value our international students at ITC, and go out of our way to make them feel welcome, and to give them the support they need to succeed.

Even though Lesly graduated over a decade ago, we have loved catching up with her and cheering on her successes. That’s the benefit of enrolling with a small tertiary provider – we never lose touch with our graduates and will always be here supporting you. If you’re an international student looking to study travel and tourism, and to experience and enjoy what New Zealand has to offer in the process, ITC is the perfect place for you.

Get in touch today to learn more about how we welcome international students at ITC, and how you can enrol.

Campus Study – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or


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