Julia Godet: Home in the Skies

MANILA, Philippines - The Air France-KLM commercial director for South China Sea, Julia Godet shares what it’s like to be a jetsetter and how she finds home wherever she lands.

 Clad in a turquoise gown that matches the color of her eyes perfectly, the mesmerizing and alluringly sophisticated Julia Godet tells this writer in the middle of her photoshoot, “I don’t know if I should be wearing this. This is not me.” Not that she doesn’t like the dress. It’s just that behind the regal persona is a more fun-loving, less serious femme.

She is, after all, a lady who remains true to her French roots of growing up in the south of France. Having three brothers and being the only girl, Julia chuckles, “Maybe that’s why I don’t wear so many dresses!” She may not wear dresses, but she is every bit a lady.

At 33, she is a member of the board of directors of Alliance Française de Manille and also a member of the foreign trade advisors for France in the Philippines. Handling Philippines and Malaysia, this commercial director is truly of an adventurous spirit and considers sports — mountain biking, trekking, hiking and rappelling in the canyons — essential to her life.

Having grown up in Pyrenees, her home 1,000 meters above ground, Godet has come a long way from the mountains. “I really like traveling, which is one of the reasons why I work with the company. Traveling is my favorite activity. I like meeting new people and understanding different cultures,” Julia explains with enthusiasm. She adds, “When you go for holidays and enter a new country, you step out of your comfort zone and step out of comfortable feelings, you open your eyes much more than usual. You really live in the present. You see the differences in every country and that’s the key to tolerance. That’s important to me.”

Julia graduated from the prestigious École Supérieure de Commerce de Toulouse (Toulouse Business School) where she picked up various, important lessons — academic and otherwise — in its Barcelona campus.

When she took an internship at Cisco Systems and did field marketing, Julia found it hypocritical to promote something she could barely understand. The new technology was booming in 2001 and everyone — except her, apparently — was rushing to grab his own piece of the pie. That’s why instead of going back for her third year in Toulouse Business School, Julia went to Arizona State University and got an MBA. After finally receiving a dual degree in Master of Science in Information Management, she was finally certain that she made the right choice. “Learning in the US is very different from how we learn in France. In America, there’s more interaction with the students. It was a challenge to understand the language. When you do an MBA and it’s in English, you have to write properly in English. Otherwise, you’ll be penalized,” says Julia, who also has fond memories of huge national parks in the US.

“Beauty can come in many forms and beauty in immensity is striking,” she remarks on the splendor of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Arch National Park where there are two boulders made of natural stone. She reiterates, “I’ve been lucky because not a lot of children have the opportunity to be raised in a place where there’s only nature, where you can really run outside and have fun in the snow. What more can you ask for?”

A Time to Fly

 

In 2003, Julia joined Air France, which was based in New York, as a corporate business analyst. In 2005, she went into pricing and revenue management (yield management) where prices are set globally. Her job involved a lot of figures and posed a great challenge as she was responsible for every decision. Julia was tasked to allocate a number of seats at a specific price and was expected to increase revenue on a daily basis. The pressure was on and she succeeded each step of the way. She flew through the ranks, from pricing manager to inventory analyst and then to managing the first joint team between Air France and KLM.

In 2009, Julia accepted the position that would find her in the Orient, the Philippines. She can’t contain her zest for her job as she elaborates what it’s like to be part of such an innovative group, “KLM launched the KLM Meet & Seat, as well as the KLM Trip Planner which helps plan a group trip with friends or family in just a few clicks. With Meet & Seat, KLM is the first airline to integrate social networking in its regular flight process. Passengers with a reservation can link their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles to the flight they will be on, in order to see who else is on board. Meet & Seat facilitates contact with fellow travelers who have the same background or interests, to give a more inspiring journey.”

 The airline has recently operated its first trans-Atlantic flight with biofuel, marking yet another success for KLM and its environmental initiatives. All these and more under Julia’s watch.

Despite being constantly on the go, Julia still considers France her home. But she is quick to say, “For me, the key is not to miss home and to be happy where you are.” An observant traveler, she shares a revelation: “I think Europeans look at life in a totally different way, as compared to Asians. I try to understand why people here are smiling and cheerful all the time. You should be grateful for being alive, for life. I think we totally forget that, usually in France, at least.”

Truly, Julia knows that in life, it’s not all about the destination, but relishing the journey.

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