March is National Women’s History Month, and the theme for International Women’s Day this year is #PressforProgress. We met with some women in leadership at Egencia to get their thoughts on how they plan to accomplish their goals for the year ahead.
We constructed a series of four questions to investigate what is on the minds of a select few Egencia Travel Managers. In these questions, we covered: advice for young professionals starting their career, common workplace challenges women face today, and how they plan to action these ideas and arrive at progress.
Q: What advice do you have for young professionals early in their career?
A: “Be strong and steady. Always do what is best for you, despite distractions.” -Event, Meeting and Travel Planner.
Similar approaches emerged from our other travel managers included in this Q&A:
- Sweat the small stuff. As your career progresses over time, all the small stuff matters; interactions with co-workers, taking extra care to go that extra mile and jumping at every opportunity to learn.
- Learn as much as you can from women industry leaders. Global Travel Senior Manager at Tapestry, Rosemary Maloney emphasises that “networking is more than what you do on LinkedIn—it requires face-to-face interaction and relationship cultivation.”
- Be eager to take on as many opportunities as you can in your career. This will help guide you closer to your future dream job.
- Remain curious. Curiosity is another important factor in this equation. Stormy Smelcer, from First Horizon National Corporation believes that “curiosity can open doors and reveal new thought processes that will help expand your career. You never know what you can learn from someone else that is a transferable skill that will enhance the value proposition you bring to the table.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge for women in leadership, and what should your organisation/industry do to overcome this?
A: “It is difficult for women to take credit for accomplishments. It is okay to say ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. You can own your accomplishments without feeling like you are bragging.” -Smelcer
- More celebrations and recognition are in need to bring attention to women leaders in the business travel industry.
- Balancing family life and personal demands are challenges female leaders often face more often than men. Keeping this equilibrium intact is not an easy task.
- Observing the travel industry at large, it seems there are more men in leadership positions than women. That is why it is more important than ever to encourage opportunity and provide exposure to women in the travel industry.
- Companies who provide flexibility, such as working remotely, can make a huge difference when keeping up with responsibilities at work and at home.
- The biggest challenge to women in leadership is self-doubt. “A behavioural study has shown this best exemplified by the following example. There are five prerequisites for a job; a man has two of the five. He will still apply and talk his way into the interview. A woman will not apply unless she has all five.” -Maloney
Q: What does progress look like for you in 2018, in travel management and/or your own career?
A: “Progress in 2018 is getting the seat at the table, stopping the hierarchical nonsense that sometimes gets travel sidelined in a department or the company at large. Personally, it’s getting the global alignment on risk mitigation and meetings while increasing internal reporting for a growing company.” -Maloney
Other travel managers continue to seek progress by:
- Continuing to learn and set goals to help move their careers ahead this year.
- Enhancing solutions to improve travel experience and manage corporate travel.
- Providing better solutions to companies and enhanced experience for travellers.
- Managing what we can control and continuing to search for opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiency to the overall programme.
Q: How are you going to press for progress?
A: “I will stay true to my brand and keep looking for opportunities for improvement and growth. It is easy to get discouraged with the amount of work that needs to be complete and the lack of available time. I will keep my sights on the value I can bring to the table and keep checking off my task list as the year progresses.” -Smelcer
- Encourage the team to take risks, recognise talent and use resources in a smarter way.
- Stimulate visibility and promote women leaders within the organisation.
- Hold vendors accountable. Continual evaluation of external vendors (such as through the RFP process) will encourage competition among vendors and bring in more wins for the travel programme.
At Egencia, we believe that gender balance drives stronger business results as we access the broadest talent pools, we have the strongest teams and we develop the best solutions for our balanced customer base. Read more about workplace diversity from Egencia here.
As a main takeaway, we will leave you with our favourite response: “I won’t compromise” – Egencia Travel Manager.
How will you press for progress this year?