The travel industry celebrated outstanding talent from the UK and beyond with the announcement of the 2019 Revolut everywoman in Travel Awards winners. The awards celebrate inspirational women whose attitude, work ethic and commitment to supporting other women are making a positive impact on this rapidly evolving industry.
Despite an ever increasing pool of female executives working in the travel industry, only 10% of C-Suite roles are currently occupied by women, and just 18% of board members are women. Whilst the recently published Women in Hospitality 2020 Report highlights a 2% increase in diversity since 2018, it cites a lack of senior role models and an exodus at middle management level as key barriers to achieving gender parity*.
At a time when the travel industry is being shaken by Brexit, the demise of the traditional travel agency model, and changing consumer habits, 2019 saw the introduction of a new award, the Disruptor Award, recognising a woman who is challenging the status quo in an unconventional and innovative way.
Special recognition was given to the overall Woman of the Year – Komal Tekchandani, Head of IT and Business Change at Heathrow - whose work to deliver change in an engaging and inclusive way has attracted global recognition, including from the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who named Komal as one of his “top global change makers”. Komal has led a Digital Workplace transformation at Heathrow, which has encouraged innovation and built capability across the organisation, from front line colleagues to the CEO. Her aim from the start has been to empower and inspire others, to spark innovation and transform ways of working.
The awards also honoured a Pioneer of the Year, Susannah Cery of Our Tribe Travels, for her work inspiring others to broaden their travel horizons through her creation of a community that champions, encourages and enables adventure travel for families.
The 2019 Revolut everywoman in Travel Awards full list of winners follows:
*NEW FOR 2019* Disruptor Award, sponsored by Celebrity Cruises – Awarded to a woman who is challenging the status quo, in an unconventional and innovative way.
Deborah Potts, Director and Head of Marketing, Summit Advisory (Part of the Elman Wall Group) from London, who is a leading dealmaker in the world of travel M&A. One of the first 50 women in her Cambridge college, Deborah started her career as a Club 18-30 rep, before building a £26 million tour operator and agency.
Above & Beyond Award, sponsored by Avis Budget Group – Awarded to a woman at any stage of her career that has truly gone above and beyond her role to help drive the organisation's success.
Jean Cook, Depot Administrator, Great Western Railway, from Bristol, who is an active champion of diversity in the workplace, chairing the Great Western Railway Inclusion Action Group having membership of the GWR Women in Rail and GWR BAME Groups.
Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to an owner/operator of a travel business that has been operating for three years or more whose vision will inspire other women to start their own enterprise.
Karen Ross, Managing Director, In2action, from Isle of Wight, whose company delivers outstanding active family holiday concepts. She has grown In2action from a kitchen table business to one turning over £3.4million, providing services to global blue-chip leisure companies.
Executive Leader Award sponsored by Olympic Holidays – Awarded to a woman whose team leadership has greatly contributed to the organisation’s success.
Sara Pastor, Managing Director, Destinations EMEA, ADARA, from Barcelona, a respected thought leader on how destinations can leverage technology to be smarter and more sustainable. A passionate advocate for gender diversity in the industry, Sara is also Co-Founder of Women in e-Travel.
International Inspiration Award sponsored by Gold Medal/Travel2 – Awarded to a woman working outside the UK & Ireland that is a role model for women in her community.
Indira Gurung, Treasurer of the Executive Board, SASANE, from Nepal, who co-founded this organisation, which empowers female survivors of human trafficking by training them as paralegals, trekking and tour guides and hospitality staff, allowing them to benefit from Nepal’s growing tourism industry.
Leader of Change Award, sponsored by Hilton – Awarded to a woman who is making a significant contribution towards the strategic direction of the business through best practices, employee engagement, improved productivity and innovation.
Lisa Henning, Chief Operating Officer, The Travel Network Group, from Woking, whose constant drive and desire to deliver for members has made a major contribution to the company’s financial and strategic success, and its pre-eminent position as the UK’s leading travel consortia.
Male Agent of Change, – Awarded to a man for his active commitment to advancing the progress of women working in travel.
Sean Collins, CEO, MBNA Thames Clippers, from London, a third-generation Waterman who began his career aged 16. He co-founded Thames Clippers in 1999 and has built one of the most diverse workforces operating on the River Thames.
One to Watch, sponsored by TripAdvisor – Awarded to a young game-changer under the age of 25 in education or apprenticeship who demonstrates a passion for the travel industry.
Ana Seidi, Former Student, Leeds Beckett University, from Leeds, who now works an industrial placement as accounts assistant at Radisson Blu. A dedicated team player, with a distinct willingness to develop, Ana has proactively supported other departments, from coordinating charitable events to supporting GDPR and Brand Compliance.
Team Leader, sponsored by Heathrow – Awarded to a woman whose team leadership has greatly contributed to the organisation’s success.
Joanna Athanasiou, Senior Director RMCC Europe, Hilton, from Watford, who proudly leads a team of 120 individuals from 27 nationalities, which is 53% female. She launched the company’s first revenue management graduate programme E.D.G.E., which now works with 27 new graduates.
Tomorrow’s Leader sponsored by TTG Media – Awarded to a woman under 30 making a significant contribution to the sector.
Hayley Goddard, UK&I Resourcing Manager, Thomas Cook, from Peterborough, a talent acquisition specialist, now exploring new opportunities to ensure travel companies are recruiting the best, most diverse talent.
Pioneer of the Year sponsored by Daily Telegraph - A special recognition Award to honour a female travel pioneer whose wanderlust has inspired others to broaden their travel horizons. This category is voted for by Telegraph Readers, and the winner of the Award is selected by the public vote.
Susannah Cery, Founder, Our Tribe Travels, from St Albans, an entrepreneur who has created a global community for families who love adventurous and off the beaten track travel.
Karen Gill MBE, Co-Founder, everywoman, comments: “Our research shows that access to female role models is a major source of inspiration for 74% of women, who cite them as inspiration to develop their own careers**. This is why visible female talent is essential in all industries – you can’t be what you can’t see. The travel industry has traditionally been a huge employer of women, but this is still not being reflected at a senior level. We firmly believe that by showcasing the success stories of this year’s winners, we can effect real change, encouraging women to progress in their careers and achieve their ambitions.”
Thomas Tudehop, Head of Public Affairs, Revolut Ltd, comments: “Revolut is thrilled to be supporting the 2019 everywoman in Travel awards and to have celebrated its inspiring winners today. These individuals have demonstrated a passion for the industry, as well as a dedication to building a dynamic and diverse workforce. At a time of global challenges and industry change, it has never been more important to recognise those who are continuing to adapt and build successful organisations that provide employment to millions.”
**Examining the pipeline (everywoman)