How traveling got me a new job at Agoda

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Many people travel these days, but all for different reasons and in different ways. No matter what, a love of travel is deeply rooted in Agoda’s culture with an estimated 90% of employees traveling at least once a year. “Travel allows me to meet different souls with different dreams,“ says Sukjoo Hong, a Customer Experience Specialist at Agoda Shanghai, who has traveled to different countries across Asia, Europe, and Latin America over the past few years.

“The first time I decided to go long-term travelling was in 2012, right after I left Samsung. I visited the western part of China, India, and Eastern Europe and made many interesting friends from all over the world. The experience injected a new vigor to my mind and really brought me a new perspective about how I should live my life.”

So I went on another 6-month trip, and it led me to living in Shanghai

“A few years later, I went on another trip to Europe and Latin America. When I was stopping by Cozumel, Mexico, I had scuba diving training with a young Israeli couple who were traveling the world together after finishing their mandatory military service. They reminded me of myself at their age — when I finished my military service and was only busy looking for a stable job.”

Born and raised in South Korea where Confucian values like conformity and stability are deeply embedded, Sukjoo, like many other Koreans, hadn’t had a chance to think about not following the socially paved path. “Before coming across different cultures and perspectives, I used to think that success is defined by money and recognition. But the world I experienced during my trip was just so much more than that; everyday was full of eye-opening moments.”

Throughout the trip, Sukjoo found one of his biggest strengths that he hadn’t realized before — high adaptability to new environments and people. Leveraging his strength to extend his travel experience, Sukjoo then began to look for jobs overseas and found an opportunity at Agoda Shanghai. “I’ve studied Mandarin Chinese since high school, so I’ve been deeply interested in Chinese culture for quite a while. Shanghai is such a vibrant city, with many activities and attractions.”

Now, my job is to help make someone’s trip hassle-free

As part of the Customer Experience Group, Sukjoo now helps Agoda’s Korean customers on the road everyday. Despite the challenging nature of the job, Sukjoo says his previous traveling experience has helped him adapt to working in a new field in a new country. “Unexpected things could happen when you travel. I learned how to handle those situations because I’ve also had some issues with hotels when I was traveling myself.”

Sukjoo also points out Agoda’s culture as an important element in his job. “Agoda is very young and fast, and this also helps me effectively deal with customers. From what I experienced, it’s easy for fast-scaling companies to miss out or even lose opportunities because of strict rules and hierarchies. Here, I’m awed by how agile a 4,000-people organization could be.”

Although Sukjoo describes his current life at Agoda Shanghai as joyful and lively, he stresses that he’s far away from his final destination. “My long-term plan is to live and work in 10 different countries. Working at Agoda Shanghai is special to me because it’s my very first job outside of Korea, the first step in my new journey.”

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