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shifting the conversation

Earth day: Shifting the conversation with Jessica Matthias

Jessica shares her journey towards fulfilling her dreams of a purposeful career and traveling the world.

At Sabre, we are committed to embracing and celebrating our diversity. In this inclusion & engagement series, Shifting the Conversation, our people share their stories to engage in open dialog and shed light on their broad, rich and unique perspectives. In celebration of Earth Day, Jessica Matthias, global sustainability director, shares her journey towards fulfilling her dreams of a purposeful career and traveling the world.

As a young single mum of a child with severe disabilities, I was told by several healthcare and education professionals that I should forget having a career and certainly forget my dream of travelling the world. As an impressionable 21-year-old, I was devastated and cried for days.  Their scathing narrative didn’t at all line up with my big dreams. I hadn’t planned the path I found myself on, but must that mean my adult life was over before it had even begun?

I thought – sod that! In that moment, I made a personal commitment to pursue a successful and meaningful career, while being the best mum I could be. I also decided I wanted to travel and experience every country in my lifetime. 

I started my career in public relations for a travel and tech consultancy. I worked with some amazing organisations – including the United Nations, Vienna Tourist Board and Kennedy Space Center – but it was my work with BBOXX, which makes solar energy kits for people living off the grid, that piqued my interest in sustainability.

BBOXX’s co-founder and CEO once told me that his company’s mission was his purpose in life. My work had always been important to me, but purpose was something deeper thatI had yet to find in my career.

Last year, I had the life-changing opportunity to head up Sabre’s new sustainability function as global sustainability director. I was thrilled to take on the challenge, which encompasses  strategy, emissions reductions, reporting, responsible supply chains, employee engagement and everything in between.

Travel-wise, I’m about to reach country number 70. Sabre has enabled me to travel to some incredible places, including Zimbabwe where I hosted my all-time favourite press event on a boat on the Zambezi River, against the backdrop of Victoria Falls! On this trip, I was overcome with respect for nature and its power. However, my increasing conscience towards sustainability has meant evaluating the meaning of my travel goal and how I could continue it in the most responsible way. Travel gave me hope in my darkest moments. Now, it’s time to give back. I believe everyone should be able to experience travel positively – and they shouldn’t have to choose between seeing the world and protecting it.

So, there is my purpose. It’s now my mission to help the industry transition to a cleaner future so that future generations can still experience it.

May my journey to a purposeful career and to achieving my personal travel goal serve as a reminder to anyone who’s been told they can’t follow their dreams – you absolutely can! 

Sabre is shifting the conversation with stories from passionate and bold inclusion group members. At the heart of our inclusion & engagement efforts, our eight inclusion groups, and counting, aim to amplify the voices of our team members and create a sense of belonging for all. Together, we celebrate diversity, applaud individuality and embrace unique perspectives to empower our global team members to bring their true selves to work every day. Learn more about our inclusion & engagement mission.

about the author

Jessica Matthias, global sustainability director, continues to fuel her purpose by making the travel industry more sustainable.  

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