Sky-high with Sally Wong

Airline executive gains altitude in Cebu

By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor

SHE CAN MANAGE. As manager of Cathay Pacific’s Southern Philippines station, Sally Wong oversees the airline’s Cebu office, as well as leads the sales agents based in Davao and Iloilo.
SHE CAN MANAGE. As manager of Cathay Pacific’s Southern Philippines station, Sally Wong oversees the airline’s Cebu office, as well as leads the sales agents based in Davao and Iloilo.

SALLY Wong can easily pass off as an intern in the company she works for. Thanks to her youthful features, easygoing demeanor and penchant for dressing in casual garbs on the weekends — many have mistaken her as such, more so in the presence of colleagues older than her. They’d be startled to find out that she’s the area manager of Cathay Pacific.

But the 25 year old stunner is certainly far from a newbie in this industry, although she said this is her first stint in a managerial post. She started globetrotting during family travels at a young age, so when she entered the prestigious University of Hong Kong, didn’t think twice of studying international business.

“Partly the reason I chose that is that it included an international exchange program, through which I was able to study in New York University for one semester,” she said. “That experience opened my eyes and made me want to travel even more.”

First assignment

Sally’s first assignment with the international carrier was in its Europe regional office in London, where she was the assistant to the general manager for a year. There, she said, her tasks jumped from one department to another, and from which she learned the ropes of the aviation industry. Plus, she got to travel all over the continent.

WANDERLUST. In her free time, Sally visits neighboring towns in Cebu for some rest and relaxation. She has dived in the waters off Moalboal, swam with the whale sharks in Oslob, and has done island hopping around Cebu.
WANDERLUST. In her free time, Sally visits neighboring towns in Cebu for some rest and relaxation. She has dived in the waters off Moalboal, swam with the whale sharks in Oslob, and has done island hopping around Cebu.

Sally was appointed manager of the Cebu office in August of 2013. If back in London she familiarized herself with the ins and outs of the industry, it was in Cebu that she had her baptism of fire: in her first three months, she experienced a major earthquake and a super typhoon.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Sally said. “It’s been challenging because this is my first time handling a team, but then again, those incidents also made me step up my way of managing operations. It pushed me to do my best.”

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. In London, Sally familiarized herself with the ins and outs of the industry, but it was in Cebu where she had her baptism of fire: in her first three months as manager of the Cebu office, she experienced a major earthquake and a super typhoon.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. In London, Sally familiarized herself with the ins and outs of the industry, but it was in Cebu where she had her baptism of fire: in her first three months as manager of the Cebu office, she experienced a major earthquake and a super typhoon.

Sally is the manager of Cathay Pacific’s Southern Philippines station, which also includes leading the sales agents based in Davao and Iloilo.

In her downtime, Sally lets her wanderlust take over, as she visits neighboring towns for some much needed rest and relaxation away from the city. She has dived in the waters off Moalboal, swam with the whale sharks in Oslob, and has done island hopping around Cebu.

Having spent most of her life in bustling metropolitan cities, she said her new home in Cebu is a much needed refreshing break. “I love it here because the weather is comfortable and people are very easygoing,” she said.

A penchant for beautiful sights

An avid photographer as well, Sally has an online photo site where she documents her travels using a professional camera her uncle had given her. Calling it her very own travelogue, it has photos of her trips including that of her favorite destination — and one she can go on and on about its magnificence — Halstatt, an untouched little village in northern Austria.

As for her next flight out, Sally is going on a trip home to welcome the Chinese New Year with family and friends. Apart from celebrating through home rituals and a sumptuous dinner, she is also gearing up for the grand Hong Kong Chinese New Year Night Parade, which is sponsored by Cathay Pacific.

“We have been the official sponsor for the Night Parade for many years, as our company is committed to support the development of Hong Kong, our home,” she said.

On a personal note, Sally’s aspirations for 2014 are quite simple: to have smooth operations at work (“Hopefully the weather will be kind to us,” she said), and to encourage more people to travel often. Taking as example her own life experience of having lived in different cities and explored various cultures, she said, “While we’re young, we should get as much exposure as possible.”

Photography: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Locale: Cebu City Marriott Hotel

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