How closed borders opened door to new career

Travel agent becomes a broker

How closed borders opened door to new career


By Jayden Fennell

Out of all the industries to bear the brunt of the pandemic, the travel sector was by far one of the most negatively affected.

Within days, an industry that employed hundreds of thousands of people was shuttered with planes grounded at airports around the nation.

Sandra Doolaul (pictured top) had just returned from maternity leave to her decades-long career in corporate travel when the pandemic began. 

“I was back for a couple of weeks and then COVID hit and basically everyone got stood down,” the former travel agent said. “If there’s no planes flying, no-one’s going anywhere. That was kind of it for the travel industry.”

Read more: Commercial property – what are the opportunities for brokers?

As the lockdowns dragged on and with the travel sector still affected, Doolaul decided to use her downtime to consider a new career path.

After purchasing her first property at 19 and having a passion for the property sector, she decided in February 2021 to send an email to Empower Wealth’s head of broking Ben Magnus (pictured below) after hearing Ben Kingsley and Bryce Holdaway talk about the company’s mortgage broking academy on their podcast.

Not long after, Doolaul was interviewing for a place within the academy and was offered a role. However, as a new mum and with childcare unavailable, she thought she would be unable to take up the opportunity.  

“I called Ben [Magnus] back the next day and I was in a panic saying ‘I can’t get day care’. I told him it was just not possible right now,” she said.

Magnus replied, saying “we’ll make it work”.

Doolaul started as a customer relationship officer at Empower Wealth in April 2021 and was recently promoted to associate broker after completing the first section of the academy’s training framework.

Magnus said the academy was established two years ago to attract and train new entrants into the industry.

“It was important for Empower Wealth to think differently on recruitment in order to meet our growth ambitions, so building the academy and resourcing new to industry talent has benefitted us greatly,” Magnus said.

“Hiring staff for attitude and training them for skill is the best way to accelerate growth, this way you have no bad habits to break or the ‘old ways of doing things’ to deal with.”

Magnus said Empower Wealth could capitalise on the disruption of other industries and could secure higher performers to pivot their careers into broking.

“All brokerages should be thinking about succession planning in their businesses and the wider industry,” Magnus said.

“Our successes also come from looking at graduates, younger Australians who may be worried about finding a job or what to do after uni. We gave quite a few a places in our business and we are seeing the benefits of that now.”

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