Vanessa Wachtmeister speaks to us about her role in the technology sector and shares her thoughts on London’s Women of Silicon Roundabout, taking place 25-26th June 2019.
Vanessa Wachtmeister is a B2B Global Launch Manager at Hotels.com and an accomplished travel writer behind the blog wanderonwards.co. Originally from Los Angeles, Vanessa has spent the last decade bouncing between Beijing, Boston, and London pursuing a career in tech whilst exploring over 40 countries.
She has a BA from Boston College, a Master's in International Development from SOAS (University of London), and her real passion is teaching people how to travel farther, longer, and for less. When she’s not on a plane, she enjoys learning languages, developing her skills, and cooking with her husband and cat.
Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the field of travel blogging?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and in 2009, I moved 3,000 miles away to attend Boston College for my undergraduate degree. When I graduated in 2013, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew that I would never get another chance to move to China without any serious responsibilities. Before moving, I launched my travel blog – wanderonwards.co – so my mom could keep up with my adventures and know that I was alive. Then I moved to a country I had never been to before, that speaks a language I don’t understand, to make it in an industry I had no experience in. I had just a domain name and a dream.
Fast-forward 7 years, I’m now working for Hotels.com and living in London with my wonderful husband and cat. Wander Onwards now has 40,000 followers across all my platforms and it allows me to travel for free to some of the most incredible destinations. I’m honestly living my #bestlife.
What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical weekday for me looks like this:
- 5:30 am – Wake up and head to the gym for an hour
- 8:45 am – Roll into the office. I’m a morning person and often work with APAC, so I’m happy to turn up even earlier if necessary. I’m buzzing from the gym so I’ll tackle my hardest tasks at the beginning of the day.
- 12:00 pm – For lunch, I normally bring my lunch as my husband and I are pretty decent cooks. My Korean pork ribs and white wine leek dish sure beats Pret. I also never eat alone; I use this hour to invest in my relationships at Expedia or with friends and family abroad via Skype.
- 5:30 pm – I’m out the door on time normally. I am not an afternoon person and I won’t apologize for it. Wake me up at 6 am for APAC calls instead, but if I’m here past six, I’m likely in zombie mode.
- 6:30 pm – My husband and I are likely cooking something interesting that we saw on YouTube. I specialize in the Latin American and North African cuisine. He’s more of an Asian and European chef. We always carve out time to do activities together to share each other’s wins, losses, and cat videos.
- 9:00 pm – I am 100% down for the count. I’m actually asleep with dreams in my head and cat fur on my bedding. I need at least 8 hours of sleep every night to function normally.
Who is your female tech inspiration? What have they done and why do they inspire you?
Most of my inspirational female icons are actually people I’ve worked with directly. They are not necessarily in technology, but they’ve helped me develop skills that are cross-functional and I’ve carried these lessons into my career in technology.
Sandra Rice: I met Sandra in 2008 when I was participating in California’s annual ‘Girls State’ program, which encourages women to participate in government and civil service. I was running for governor (because if you’re going to do something, go big) and she saw me campaigning like a mad woman and thought I had potential. She then brought me into the Emma Bowen Foundation, where I learnt the majority of my technical skills and gained serious work experience. No one has had a bigger impact on my career than this woman. She was wise enough to know that energy and passion is something you can harness and use for incredible things; I never felt like I had to be a sort of way with her. I owe this woman my career.
Denise Menchaca: My mom has been the driving force behind all of my success; and this is not an exaggeration. She is my most active follower, my unofficial PR rep, and my biggest cheerleader. She’s taught me resilience, flexibility, and how to market myself in any scenario. In a past life, she was an accountant working for a big 4 firm and today she is the Vice Mayor of my hometown in Los Angeles. She’s also taught me a lot about humility. Do things without expecting to be compensated for them. Take care of those who have supported you in sickness and in health. And most importantly, bring people with you.
Christine Olivier: No one has taught me more about resilience than Christine. I would actually dub her the ‘Millennial Whisperer’ because she just knew how to encourage, inspire, and support all of the young people in the office; especially those just starting out in their career. I was a sheep and she was my shepherd. She taught me about goal setting, intentions, and encouraged me to listen to my gut about certain scenarios.
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you’d like to share with our readers?
Currently, I’m putting together an all-female small group tour through Morocco! It’s scheduled for April 2020 and it will be an opportunity for like-minded, adventurous women to experience Morocco comfortably. Everything is going to be organized to the T; all you have to do is purchase your ticket and turn up. I really wanted to create a space for women who are looking to take their careers, life, and passions to the next level and create a hive of entrepreneurial energy. The luxury accommodation and personal photographer won’t hurt either.
It’s going to be a real opportunity to experience the exciting energy of Morocco without worrying about the logistics. I promise you’ll come out of the experience with a whole new Instagram feed and a reinvigorated zest for life. Please ping me if you’d like to come along! #shamelessplug
What is your Women of Silicon Roundabout talk about?
My talk is about harnessing the power of the universe to manifest anything! Crystals aside, there are real tangible actions and methodologies that I’m highlighting to get women where they want to be. I’ve been chipping away since I was 13 years old to be exactly where I am now. I had no idea about the specifics of the situation, I just knew that if I did x, then y would eventually happen, only to finally accomplish Z. Now I need to pivot on my goals because I didn’t think I would get this far this fast. I hope to show people how to replicate this same process, wherever they are in their journey.
What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?
Stop being your own worst enemy. No one is thinking that you’re a certain way or reminiscing about that one email. Allow yourself to accept the success you know you deserve.
Drive your digital economy at Women of Silicon Roundabout
Join Vanessa and Expedia Group at London's top women in tech conference. Be inspired by the ecosystem's most influential women in technology, network with like-minded female founders, liaise with top Silicon Roundabout tech companies and enhance your skills portfolio in a passion-charged atmosphere.
You can catch Vanessa's speech, Bootstrapping Your Way To The Top, on Tuesday 25th June at 3:00 pm. With tickets selling out fast, secure your place now.