DORAL, FL – The Idea Center at Miami Dade College had an unprecedented moment on Thursday when it hosted the Mike B. Fernandez Global Business Leadership Series at the West Campus in Doral for the first time in their history.
MDC’s West Campus was the meeting point between Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, and Madeline Pumariega, president of Miami Dade College, in a forum where both shared their experiences as female leaders and the adventures of being in charge of the most popular cruise line in the world.
Introduced by Dr. Beverly Moore-Garcia, West Campus president, Christine and Madeline engaged in a conversation in front of a group of students eager to learn how to navigate today’s workforce, specially in the travel and hospitality industry that has faced several challenges since the pandemic hit the world in 2020.
During the forum, the president of Miami Dade College, who was conducting the questions, shared with the audience how she started as a part-time advisor, while Duffy remembered her first time working in the industry as a receptionist for a travel agent.
She had to work really hard to finally become the first female president of Carnival Cruise Line, representing 40,000 carnival cruise employees.
Madeline, who is also the first female president to lead Miami Dade College, took the opportunity to inquire on how to create the best work culture and customer satisfaction in today’s labor market. “Every industry talks about experience now, but how do we improve experience for our employees?…I believe if my crew isn’t happy, my customers aren’t going to be happy,” said Duffy, who also noted the majority of people that work in the travel and hospitality industry are women and yet very few hold top jobs.
As a leader of a company with a fleet of 24 ships, sailing nearly 6 million guests annually and employing more than 40,000 people who hail from 120 nations around the globe, she has been a strong force behind transforming Carnival’s culture into a place where it is fun to work and where diversity is embraced. These and other efforts have won the company certification as a Great Place to Work™.
Regarding customer satisfaction, Duffy shared with MDC president the moment when she decided to visit every ship of the company, 26 at the time, to meet with crew members and ask them what was working and what wasn’t.
“My big focus is to get out there and spend time with the customer, you need to connect with the people to learn how to execute effectively and more importantly, to understand why you’re making the decisions that you’re making,” she pointed out.
In addition to this, Miami Dade College students also learned how to create an inclusive and fun work culture, incorporate sustainability into business practices, grow a workforce leveraging technology, and much more.