Toni Walker grew up in the Midwest on a small farm outside of Peoria, Illinois. Walker left her college in Champaign, Illinois, to follow her high school sweetheart who was stationed in Anchorage. Walker got married and went to school at Alaska Pacific University where she earned one Bachelor of Arts in Hotel Food Service Management and another in Tour and Travel. Eighteen years ago, after putting in many hours at various local hotels and tour companies, Walker partnered with two co-workers to found Logistics, LLC, a conference and destination management company based in Anchorage, of which Walker has been the sole owner for twelve years.
HALF AN IDEA? When I was going to school in Illinois, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be in the travel industry, but back in those days--especially where I came from--the travel industry meant more of a travel agency or working for the airlines. But when I got up to Alaska--I think it was just one of those things that was meant to be--I found my niche.
PUTTING IN TIME: While I was getting my two degrees, I worked eighty hours a week while going to school and eighty hours a week in the tourism industry during the summer.
My first Alaska job was working for Phillips Cruises and Tours doing specialized itineraries and selling glacier cruises, and I also worked in a restaurant as a hostess-maitre d': I got my feet wet a little bit in the industry that way. After getting out of college, I went to work for the Anchorage Hilton Hotel as an assistant and then was promoted up to a sales manager and worked there for five years in addition to working at different restaurants and bars, getting more experience in those areas. After five years of working for a big corporation, which was a great experience, I realized that if I was going to work so hard I...