In our second edition of Humans of Euroventure, we caught up with Tolly Byrne. Some of you may recognise Tolly from our sales team as one of the friendly voices that help to plan your custom trips. We caught up about football, Kenya and life at Euroventure.
So what’s your name, age and where are you from?
My name is Tolly, I’m 23 and I’m from a small village called Iwerne Minster in Dorset, in the south-west.
And what do you do at Euroventure?
I work in the sales department of Euroventure. Customers will tell me where they’d like to go, and I’ll put a route together based on what they’re after and let them know how much it would cost. I’ll also suggest a few places that are worth visiting on people’s route if they can fit it in.
Once or twice a year I’ll also lead one of the group tours that Euroventure runs. On these it’s my job to get everyone to the hostels and to the trains on time, suggest a few good things for them to do in each city and generally make sure everyone’s enjoying their trip.
Rumour is you spent some time in Kenya, what’s the story?
These rumours are true! I moved there with my family when I was 14. At the time, my dad had been doing the same job for 17 years in a row and had had enough of it, so he started looking at other jobs when one turned up in Kenya. He’s a teacher, both my parents are, and they found a job at an English school out there, so they went for it.
I went to the School they worked at out in Kenya. Because it followed the English curriculum, I did my GCSEs and A levels out there. All the teaching was in English and so were the majority of staff were as well. Because the school was in the middle of nowhere, about three hours drive away from Nairobi, there was accommodation for all the staff on site; so you basically had a small community of British teachers living within a compound in a Kenyan village. It was a really nice community to live in, everyone knew everyone and it was a really friendly environment. The school provided a lot of jobs for people in the local community and the school was very popular with local Kenyans who were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
I was out there for five years. The first four I was in school and then had a year out in our last year there. During this time, I did a bit of work, volunteered at a local children’s home and played football in the league below the premier league there (I’ll be doing autographs later). I also travelled a bit during the last year there, going around Kenya and Uganda and spent a bit of time at a mission in some of the tribal areas in northern Kenya.
How did you end up at Euroventure in Leeds?
I came to Leeds for university and stayed here. I figured it’s a city that I knew with quite a lot going on, and my family were back in Dorset at this point where the only really job prospect was working behind the bar in the local. I’d graduated in criminology and originally wanted to work with ex-offenders, helping them to reintegrate into society after they were released from prison. However, when I applied for jobs though I was met with the classic paradox- you can’t get a job without experience. This meant I was doing that unpaid for one day a week and spent the rest of my time working for Deliveroo. I quickly found that 40-50 hours of cycling a week and one day of unpaid work wasn’t quite cutting it, so I applied for every job under the sun. I remember reading about the job at Euroventure and it stood out as one that I would genuinely like, rather than one that would just pay the bills. A couple of months later I got a call from Phil, our managing director, we had a chat and he invited me to interview. I got quite lucky when Phil called because I’d actually stopped to repair a puncture on the bike- otherwise I would’ve missed the call and never got the interview!
Shortly after the interview (roughly 10 minutes later) Phil called me to offer me the job. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I’ve really enjoyed the job here, much more than the voluntary job I wanted to go into. It’s an easy-going work environment where I get on well with everyone and feel like a valued part of the team, so I’ve had no reason to leave.
What is your life goal? (deep, we know)
Not sure to be honest! Growing up, I always wanted to be a footballer, but since I figured out that I was little better than bang average and since then I’ve had my heart set on a few different things. I’ve given up on the dream of working with ex-offenders and I can see myself doing more work in the travel industry as I think it suits me. Having lived abroad already I am keen on doing that again, and I kind of have my heart set on Spain but I’m not sure what I’d do there. Ideally, I’d like to keep working in travel, but I’d be keen to try a few different things. I’m pretty open minded to most situations and willing to give most things a go so who knows where I’ll end up?
Where is the best place you have ever traveled to and why?
There are so many places to choose from and so many amazing reasons for a lot of the places I’ve been to. Honorable mentions go to Barcelona, Berlin and Istanbul but I’d probably have to go for somewhere in Africa. Either Kampala in Uganda or the Gambia were both amazing. Both places were really beautiful and interesting and ultimately the people in both made the places what they really were. The Gambia was much more chilled out, where I spent most of my time with a beer in hand, under a palm tree eating barbecued fish that we’d caught that morning. Kampala was a lot livelier with loads going on but with some amazing marketplaces and surprisingly some of the best food I’ve ever had. Both places felt as safe as houses as well, which isn’t something you often here about Africa and just had an amazing vibe to them. So yeah, I’d say it’s a tie between Uganda and Gambia.
Want to hear more from Tolly? Connect with him on Linkedin!