Corbett to bring core values to CEO role at PONANT Asia Pacific

LATTE chats exclusively with Deb Corbett on her promotion

Industry veteran of more than 30 years, Deb Corbett, will bring her three core life values to her new role as Chief Executive Officer at PONANT Asia Pacific, revealed yesterday to the industry. Speaking exclusively with LATTE, the always enthusiastic and ‘open book’ Corbett said she’ll be bringing “respect, trust and unity” to the table as she steps into the position this month, left vacant by the departing Chris Hall.

Corbett, who last week happened to be in Marseille for PONANT’s annual global conference involving the brand’s global international offices, was offered the CEO title based on her extensive brand knowledge, skillset and vast industry experience. She has been with PONANT directly for seven years, but has been working with the French luxury expedition line for a number of years before that.

For background, Corbett entered the travel and tourism industry at CTC Cruise Lines “many, many moons ago” before moving into retail franchising and agency membership networks under UTAG, before it morphed to UTAG Travel, which became Travelscene, when then transitioned to Travelscene American Express. Corbett was involved in each of those brand changes over 11 years, looking after marketing before moving into supplier relations and contracting.

In Sydney last November: Deb Corbett with PONANT's Sarina Bratton, Global Senior Strategic Advisor and Honorary Chairwoman; Belinda Hindmarsh, Group Deputy CEO of Global Business and Charles Boutet, Director of Marketing & Communications.

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Her career progression included a stint at Garuda Orient Holidays and then onto Travel the World (TTW) where she was exposed to their GSA brands that included Tauck, Windstar Cruises, Chiva-Som and PONANT over a number of years. It was that association working on the account at TTW that led Corbett to join PONANT on a full-time basis.

In the role of CEO APAC, Corbett told LATTE she would be focused on continuing to establish the brand’s “unified growth approach” flowing into her new capacity, and making sure the “cross pollination is centred on working as one united team” – expedition, maritime operations, customer engagement, sales, marketing, communications, HR, finance, etc.

That strategy is to ensure “everyone is working towards one united goal and one common objective.”

The ‘One Ponant’ project that Hall established for PONANT during his tenure will be carried forward by a committee and is expected to be delivered at the end of 2025.

Spirit of Ponant

Commenting on PONANT’s structure which is continuing to evolve in APAC and more widely, Corbett remarked:

“Our growth acceleration globally is so exciting. We’ve really developed this ‘PONANT Group’, if you like, with a series of brands beneath it.”

She explains the expedition program (Arctic, Antarctic and Kimberley) and yachting (Mediterranean voyages) will be pooled under the title of ‘PONANT Explorations’. That is in addition to ‘destination expert’ brands including Paul Gauguin Cruises in French Polynesia, Le Commandant Charcot as a Polar Specialist and the evolving boutique portfolio which encompasses Paspaley Pearl by PONANT (which will operate in Australia’s Far North, Papua New Guinea and East Indonesia); and the new catamaran, Spirit of Ponant (which is bound for the Seychelles).

On a side note, Corbett says charter enquiries from the Asia Pacific region for the 12-guest Spirit of Ponant have been incredible. “It’s been very popular since it was launched in April,” she says.

Pictured at PONANT’s headquarters in Marseille, France last week, from left are: Charles Boutet, Deb Corbett, Mick Fogg, Julie Rogers and Maxime Farrenq.

Never one to take the spotlight alone, Corbett says she is excited for her counterparts too with the internal promotions at PONANT including Julie Rodgers who will now have her coverage expanded beyond Australia, New Zealand and ’emerging markets’ in Southeast Asia to encompass the Japan and Hong Kong markets.

Corbett explained that Captain David Marionneau has taken on the newly created role for Asia Pacific of Director of Maritime Operations, a role that will see him responsible for PONANT’s two ships based in the region, government relations and taking a seat on the CLIA Advocacy and Expeditions committee alongside Mick Fogg. The structure change also sees Maxime Farrenq promoted from General Manager of HR, Operations & Finance to Chief Operating Officer APAC – another newly created role for this zone – working closely with the start-up of operations for Paspaley Pearl by PONANT, on top of his other remit.

Last week, CLIA Australasia announced the election of Corbett to the region’s Executive Committee.

Lead image: PONANT’s Deb Corbett, incoming CEO Asia Pacific with Chris Hall, departing CEO Asia Pacific & Special Advisor, in Marseille last week.

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