Day in the life: Lee Sheridan, Intrepid Travel general manager in Myanmar

Day in the life: Lee Sheridan, Intrepid Travel general manager in Myanmar

Searching for crocodiles or river dolphins and helping locals learn to cater for tourists is all part of the job for Lee Sheridan. Here he describes what it’s like living and working in Myanmar.

My typical day at work involves . . .
The first thing I do is check my emails, then I head to the gym and come back to give my daughter a bath, take her to school and head into the office in Yangon. My days vary widely, but recently I have spent a lot of time working on a new community-based tourism project outside of Bagan. It’s exciting as it’s the first way for visitors to have an ethical and authentic experience in Myanmar. Earlier this year, we set up a new lodge run by local people, and all the profits go back into helping local communities. A lot of my time has been spent helping these communities get ready to receive tourists. I’ll do anything from designing and testing the local experiences to working with community members and helping them practise hosting tourists. Last week I was exploring some new villages outside of Bagan who are keen to receive tourists and discussing how this may impact their lives. The week before, I was searching for crocodiles, Irrawaddy river dolphins and turtles laying eggs on beaches, while looking to set up a new tourism project in the Irrawaddy Delta area of Myanmar (also called Burma).

I’ve been in my job for...
Two years. Prior to being with Intrepid Travel in Myanmar, I went to Laos backpacking in 2001 and it took me 13 years to leave! During my time there I managed the first ecotourism company in Laos where we developed river rafting and homestay experiences within a national park.

I work in travel because...
I get a lot of enjoyment from sharing the places I love with other people. Over the years, this passion has driven me to want to ensure these places are benefiting from tourism – specifically the communities that live in these areas. I am a strong proponent of responsible tourism and am proud of the work we are doing here in Myanmar.

The most rewarding part of my job is…
Being able to make a difference. Tourism in Myanmar is still in its infancy and there is huge potential. Creating new approaches to tourism is exciting and rewarding. Seeing the feedback from our customers, communities and wider stakeholders encourages me to look for the next new way to improve how we develop and operate tourism here in Myanmar.

The most challenging part of my job is…
Dealing with cultural differences and language. It’s always a challenge when working in different countries, but it’s an opportunity to learn.

My favourite destination is…
Myanmar, of course! Closely followed by Laos and Borneo.

The most common thing I am asked is…
Are you ever in your office?

The worst thing that’s happened at work is…
The nationwide flooding last year that affected over one million people. Intrepid Group, our partners, guests and staff made donations totalling almost £10,000 to help the relief efforts. We used this money in partnership with Action Aid to set up micro-finance schemes in five villages outside of Bagan to help communities access the capital they need to start rebuilding their lives.

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