Ardie isn’t afraid of uncertainty. Quite the opposite, actually. When the opportunity arises to create something from nothing (or to get “scrappy,” as Ardie likes to say), that’s when this EF Education First Associate Director of Operations does his best work. It’s why he won the EF Core Value Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit, and the reason he’s been able to forge his own path to career success at EF.
“I knew EF was the right fit for me because of how they treat their people,” says Ardie, who hails from Worcester, Massachusetts and started his career as a Tour Consultant at EF Explore America, helping educators take students on tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. The new role was a big transition from Ardie’s previous life in the Boston restaurant industry, and although it was an entry-level position, he saw huge potential.
He explains, “On top of creating a fantastic workspace and culture, EF encourages you to step up and take ownership of any and everything you do. It’s a place where you can grab your career by the horns and ride it anywhere around the world.”
And that’s exactly what Ardie has done. In his early days as a Tour Consultant, he was primarily responsible for sales and customer service. But he also stepped back to observe the bigger picture. Without anyone asking, he took note of how he could better serve customers, improve internal communication, and create more efficient sales processes. This self-initiative opened the door to a new role created just for him and his unique skill set.
“The opportunity that had the most impact on my career was transitioning from a sales role to an operations role,” reflects Ardie. “While it might be a small change on paper, this transition helped propel my career to where it is today. It put me outside of my comfort zone, helped me learn new things, and made me invested in my work in a way I didn’t think was possible.”
Today, Ardie manages a team of Tour Experience Managers and Regional Product Managers responsible for creating dynamic tour itineraries and experiences. Ardie says he spends about half of his time establishing an operations roadmap for EF Explore America and the other half ensuring that his team and his suppliers are executing on those plans—all while keeping customers happy. Creative problem solving and collaboration are key to success, and luckily for his team, those are two areas where Ardie excels.
“I love thinking about work efficiency,” says Ardie, who studied business management and economics at Emmanuel College. “I’m always assessing how well we’re doing, and figuring out ways to help my team do an even better job than they’ve done before. I’m most excited when I’m able to contribute new ideas and create opportunities for others.”
Aside from the job’s many travel perks—which have brought him to exciting places like Australia, New Orleans, Louisiana, and most recently to Berlin for EF’s Global Student Leadership Summit—Ardie’s favorite part of his job remains the people.
“The best part of my job is being able to work with all the different people involved in making our tours come to life,” he says, “whether it’s our Tour Consultants who work directly with our Group Leaders or Business Analysts who create innovative tools to improve how we interact with our suppliers.”
Outside of work, Ardie loves to cook—a craft he mastered during his days as a cook and restaurant manager in Boston’s North End and Mission Hill neighborhoods. Just as he enjoys perfecting EF’s business processes, he finds excitement in fine-tuning recipes for his own hot sauces and soups. His favorite thing to make? Chikhirtma—a lemon chicken soup native to the country of Georgia.
“I love the complexities,” explains Ardie. “How adding or subtracting one ingredient in the process can create an entirely new and dynamic flavor.” One thing’s for sure: In work and in life, navigating complexity comes naturally to Ardie. And he appreciates EF for giving him the space to keep growing his strengths and creating his own path.
“Working at EF has changed me in too many ways to count,” he says. “EF created an environment for me to be challenged, thrive, and figure out what I want to do with my life, in and outside of work.”