As featured in the No: 60 Winter edition of The Country Web.
Linda Tillman is the Director of Tilma Group and has built the business from its humble beginnings operating from her home office to the dynamic and growing agency it is today, employing four staff. She is a Director for the Australian Regional Tourism Network and last year was awarded Gold at the NSW Tourism Awards in the ‘Young Achiever in Tourism’ category.
Originally from the North Coast region of NSW, Linda is passionate about promoting regional NSW and Victoria as exciting and thriving destinations. She now lives in Marrar with her husband, two children and a menagerie of animals and is heavily involved in her community as voluntary secretary and treasurer of the Marrar Polocrosse Club and a board member of the local sports ground trust.
We spoke to Linda about how she came to start her own business and her recent win at the NSW Tourism Awards.
Tell us about your childhood? How has this shaped your passions? I’ve always been a country girl with my first 12 years spent in Dubbo, followed by a move to Alstonville on the NSW North Coast where I finished my schooling and university studies. My family worked hard and were by no means wealthy, which I believe fuelled my desire to be successful. I learnt from a young age that success and happiness is not always about the money, but more the quality of the experience. This simple upbringing has given me an appreciation for many things, including the beauty and appeal of regional and rural communities, people and destinations. I now enjoy promoting and assisting rural and regional communities to embrace the simple things and share them with visitors.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up? What things/ people have influenced your path? As a child I dreamed of being a vet but then in my teenage years, surrounded by a positive and motivated group of close friends who influenced me to do my best and follow my dreams, I had a desire to manage the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas. I followed this dream to university and completed a Bachelor of Business in Tourism. In my second year I studied Rural Tourism as an elective and this is where it ‘clicked’ – the power of tourism to rural communities. I completed a major assessment based on a case study of Nundle and it was this exact point that influenced my career.
What are you working on at the moment? As the Managing Director of Tilma Group I work with regional and rural communities to assist them to grow and leverage the tourism industry (or visitor economy). Based in the Coolamon region (home of the 2014 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering) my team has worked on the management of the National Rural Women’s Conference 2012, destination marketing for rural councils such as Coolamon Shire and Junee Shire, managing regional festivals such as Griffith La Festa and the International Millinery Forum in Wagga Wagga… and more. The work I do is diverse but the essence is the same – assist rural communities to grow and thrive.
What steps have you taken to get to this point in your career? Hard work and dedication! At the end of my degree I travelled Australia for three years, spending time in regional and rural communities. This provided me with an amazing insight and appreciation for what this great country has to offer. I have surrounded myself with positive and influential people, which includes other successful small business owners, networking groups and family and friends. I always attend seminars, conferences and training programs to ensure I stay at the cutting edge. The best thing of all is that I have to travel and enjoy regional destinations to ensure I am always aware of their needs and opportunities!
Have you faced any hurdles along the way? How have you addressed them? I always keep things simple and stay true to my beliefs and values, which seem to keep me away from difficulties.
Who has been the most influential woman (women) in your life and why? My Mum has been very influential in terms of my beliefs and values but it was my high school friends that have been the most influential in my career, and they still are. We are all hard workers and drive each other on an ongoing basis. I feel very blessed to have a great network of friends to support me.
What is the best piece of advice you have received? Always challenge yourself. Never settle for second best and think that you cannot achieve something – you CAN!
What advice you would pass on to other young women? Experience as much as you can while you can. I attribute a large amount of my skill and knowledge to my travel and life experiences – the people you meet each day will have different influences on your life.
What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
As a young woman working and living in rural NSW you are playing an important role in helping to build a thriving, sustainable agriculture for tomorrow’s communities. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? My vision is that rural Australia is a vibrant and must-visit place on everyone’s bucket
list. I would love to see growth in rural tourism and the visitor economy, with more domestic and international visitors making the journey to enjoy and experience the
people and places of rural Australia (the real Australia!). I want to be part of this,
which is where I will be 10 years from now!
NSW Tourism Awards