Name: Michelle Petelicki
Company: Panorama Tours, Inc.
City/State: Wallington, NJ
Years in Industry: 20 years
How did you first get involved in the industry?
Going into my last year of college, I realized that the degree I was pursuing, wasn't what I wanted anymore. I made a last-minute switch and graduated without any definitive direction. My father, who founded Panorama Tours while I was in high school, was in the process of expanding the business and offered me the opportunity to help him for a little bit while I figured out what was next. I quickly realized that this was my "next" and here I am 20 years later as president and majority owner.
Who has inspired your career?
My father, Joe, is my inspiration and not just with my career. My mom, his high school sweetheart, passed away very young and my dad was left with two little kids - my brother who was 4, and myself who was only 3. We were the 3 amigos; growing up together. He is the one that taught me to work hard but to also really enjoy life. As for my career; without the foundation that my father laid in the early years of Panorama and the opportunities that he allowed me to pursue, I wouldn't have half the successes that I have been so fortunate to achieve.
What has been the greatest challenge/opportunity in your career?
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that my most recent great challenge and accomplishment was successfully navigating the pandemic. Like many, I was struggling to figure it all out while not failing as an employer, a daughter, a wife, and most of all a mother. It was a time of great division in what was right or wrong even within my own family. Navigating that, while trying to keep the business from failing was mentally and emotionally exhausting. To quiet my mind, I started working out and became physically exhausted. However, miraculously through this total exhaustion, I somehow found strength - Strength to pull up my big girl panties and GET IT DONE!
What advice would you give to others about working in this industry?
Network and listen!! This industry has so many nuances that it is easy to miss something. We are an industry of some of the smartest and most hardworking people. Listening and learning from each other are critical to moving forward. The biggest impact on your business could come from a simple piece of advice.
Why is it important for you to belong to Women in Buses Council?
You don't have to be a woman in buses to recognize the great resources that the Council provides through its education sessions. From marketing sessions to the Driving Force Program, WIB does an excellent job of providing the necessary information and tools to help you be successful. That said, I AM a woman in buses and I especially love that this Council provides opportunities for women to feel comfortable asking questions without feeling intimidated in this male-dominated industry!