Profile: Hindle's journey to the top - Debbie Hindle, managing director, BGB Communications

As the head of the UK's largest travel PR agency, BGB Communications - which boasts a client list of well-known brands such as Tourism Australia, eBookers and Air Jamaica - one might expect Debbie Hindle to cut a dash as a hard-nosed businesswoman.

However, as anyone familiar with the travel industry would concede, she is one of the more attentive and relaxed characters the sector has to offer. She joined BGB, the agency named after Australian Bronwyn Gold Blyth, in 1991 and rose through the ranks to become MD three years ago.

Few have achieved so much with such a calm demeanour. She is the only UK travel PRO invited to take up membership of the World Tourism Organisation Business Leaders' Forum, and is a member of the WTO Crisis Action Network.

Does Hindle ever lose her temper? 'The only thing that would make me angry is injustice or somebody bullying one of my staff, but I wouldn't lose my temper. The only people who can make me do that are my children,' she admits. 'Children can just tug at your heartstrings in a way clients, thankfully, can't. Children have a way of knowing how to wind you up and are by far my hardest management problem.'

She says the travel industry offers so many opportunities for people to set up and start a business, which they do out of passion rather than ruthlessness: 'I probably identify more with this type of person.'

TUI-UK head of PR Rachel O'Reilly warns that Hindle is not to be underestimated: 'She's a very cool customer, but I have seen her feathers ruffled - she gets really, really quiet and measured, which can be far scarier.'

The list of people who have earned their starts under the watchful eye of Hindle include O'Reilly, Thomas Cook head of PR Bronwen Griffiths and Kuoni UK head of PR Sarah Bolam. 'Debbie taught me everything I know about travel. She was ruthless with my press releases; she loves to get inside the details,' says O'Reilly.

It is a temperament ideally suited to an industry that can be hit hard by a hurricane or airline strike.

She gives the impression that she cannot be ruffled by simple inconveniences and, almost inconceivably, struggles to name her worst travel experience despite two decades in travel PR.

Finally she nominates a trip to Brezhnev-era Russia, which she visited as the violinist in the Shropshire County Orchestra, due to a nasty landing aboard an Aeroflot jet during an electrical storm. However, the trip is also listed among her most rewarding experiences, playing jazz in a Communist country completely foreign to an 18-year-old Shropshire lass.

Beneath her 'mumsy' appearance, Hindle has an eye for fun, demonstrated when she took off to the US during the second year of her literature degree, despite warnings from lecturers that it would jeopardise her career prospects: 'I wasn't there to get points or a first so I said "I'm going!".'

She spent a year at the State University of Illinois, the setting for cult comedy Animal House, a film she describes as accurate: 'It was a fantastic time. I saw James Brown and Ray Charles in a small club in Chicago.'

To her great shame she admits her five-year-old son prefers teen novelty band Busted, but she shrugs, saying that 'singing, dancing and laughing is to be encouraged at all times'.

Life could have turned out very differently for Hindle. After working in PR for clients that included construction companies and chartered accountants, she followed her husband to London and almost accepted a job from an agency specialising in construction PR.

However, she jumped at the eleventh hour to become account manager at the Australian Tourist Commission, an account BGB - which rebranded as BGB Communications earlier this year - still holds, 14 years on.

'It took me a nanosecond to make the decision,' says Hindle, 'and now I couldn't work in any other industry.'


1985: Editor, Haig Wyresdale Advertising

1987: Account executive, McCann PR

1990: Account manager, Scott Gold Blyth

1991: Associate, BGB & Associates

1995: Board director, BGB & Associates

1998: Deputy managing director, BGB & Associates

2001: Managing director, BGB & Associates

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