Oct. 7, 2019 — Years after earning a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center as a member of the Class of ’06, Brett Thorstad has changed career paths, moving from law to sales for an international travel corporation.
He was recently named Vice President Sales Management - South East Asia and APAC Joint Ventures for Sabre, a travel technology corporation headquartered in Southlake, Texas.
“When the opportunity was first presented, I hesitated,” Thorstad said. “I spent 16 years studying and practicing law, so sales is a bit of a leap. However, this was also a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would have regretted if I had passed it up.”
Thorstad will oversee nine countries in his new position, supervising sales performance and spurring agency growth in Southeast Asia, as well as forming distribution partners around the Asia Pacific region.
“The role includes two key areas of Sabre’s Travel Network business in Asia Pacific. As head of our South East Asia region, I lead a team of 21 employees focusing on travel agency account renewals and conversions,” he said.
“Another area of responsibility is managing the commercial relationships of our 17 joint venture and distribution markets within Asia Pacific. In this role, we also look at opportunities to enter new markets and optimize our business model in existing markets.”
After years of working as a lawyer, Thorstad anticipates his career transition being seamless.
“I spent two years at Sabre leading our global mergers and acquisitions practice and another four years in the commercial legal team supporting Travel Network,” he said. “I developed a deep understanding of our Travel Network business, as well as … had the opportunity to build business relationships with our key partners across the various markets in which we operate.”
At UH Law Center, Thorstad enjoyed a range of courses and educators, including Professor Robert Ragazzo’s Business Organizations class and Professor Douglas Moll’s Secured Financing class.
However, one professor always stands out to Thorstad.
“Without question, my favorite professor was the late Professor Stephen Zamora, who taught International Law and was a terrific person,” he said.
Thorstad also participated in the Law Center’s moot court program.
“I was fortunate to compete in Hong Kong with UH’s international moot court team coached by Ann Ryan Robertson.”
Despite thinking that his analytical abilities serve him suitably as an attorney, Thorstad believes in applying the legal education in nontraditional ways.
“Many lawyers will go into politics, but there are so many other things that one can end up doing with a legal education,” he said. “The law trains you how to think, how to analyze, and how to communicate complicated topics in a simple way. In the business world, these skills are highly sought after.”