As Jikke Gyorki pulls across the finish line on her cross-country bike, her eight- and four-year-old kids rush to meet her with their dad in tow. Jikke took up racing a couple years back, figuring she didn’t have enough on the go with a full family and being Tourism Fernie’s executive officer. But if you ask her, it’s all about believing in what you sell, and living it is the best way to do that.
“I’m a mountain biker and a skier, and those are two core parts of who I am,” says the powerhouse mom and champion of her mountain surroundings. For her, sharing and encouraging people to live full outdoor lives has always been as thrilling as living one herself.
“The tourism sector mainly revolves around people on holidays or enjoying events, so they’re naturally happy, and it’s fun to be associated with an industry and an environment like that,” she explains.
Her journey started like many others, working front-line positions in hospitality as a hostess back in her native Saskatoon. She knew her path early, and attended Ryerson University in Toronto where she got a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. From there, her boyfriend at the time got a job in forestry in Kimberley, and she found her way to the Kootenays.
“My career was very portable,” she remembers. “That’s one of the nice things about tourism, it’s an industry that exists pretty much anywhere you go. I’ve always loved BC, so it was an easy win to go west.”
Twenty-two years later, she’s worked her way incrementally to the top of the tourism food chain, and has spent the last eight years perfectly planted in Fernie. She hasn’t slowed, her passion hasn’t waned, and the dynamic range of her job still gratifies her daily. From trouble-shooting a broken community shuttle bus to working on promotion directly with local businesses, every task comes back to the same idea that still stokes her fire today and, she says, is at the root of her success.
“There’s such diversity in the business, where you can go and where you can take it. It’s easy to move around and follow a dream. If you stay true to making people happy, you can go really far.”
This blog post is part of an ongoing series focused on the tourism sector in the Kootenays. It is supported by Imagine Kootenay, Kootenay Rockies Tourism, and go2HR.