Alison Hall, MeetingsNet
May 31, 2016
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Anyone who attended the Women in Travel (WINiT) Summit in Orlando last July got some big-picture thinking about women’s influence in the world, some practical career takeaways, and the chance to meet nearly 400 other WINiT members, women and men, who share an interest in supporting the visibility and mobility of women in the hospitality, travel, and meetings industry.
Membership in WINiT, which launched in 2014, is free, as is attendance at its annual summit event. Part of the reason for this is the founders’ desire for participation in WINiT to complement—not compete with—members’ participation in other industry associations. While the target audience is professionals in the travel, meeting, event, exhibition, and hospitality industries, overarching career issues are the focus of the education and networking opportunities WINiT presents.
What also makes the organization unique is its emphasis on supporting women at all levels, not just those headed for the C-suite, and the fact that the organization invites men to be members as well, believing that women and men must collaborate in order to promote change and make progress.
Here are some of WINiT’s growth numbers to date:
- 2,213 members
- 114 participants in the year-old WINiT Mentor Program
- 175 volunteers (up from 104 during the WINiT’s first year)
- 21 donors and 22 in-kind donors (see the list)
- 9 industry partners: Meeting Professionals International, Association of Corporate Travel Executives, Institute for Health and Human Potential, Global Business Travel Association, MeetingsNet, BTN Group, Young Travel Professionals, Big Speak, and IMEX America
- New events in London: WINiT members gathered for the WINiT EMEA Half Day Conference in February, the second year of holding an event in conjunction with London’s Business Travel Show
In addition to the three successful programs WINiT launched in its first year of operation: the Mentor Program, a Central Career Board, and the WINiT Classroom (a collection of educational resources and materials), the organization is embarking on WINiT University, or WINiT U, a new outreach program. A partnership with the nonprofit organization Young Travel Professionals, WINiT U will be a collaboration with colleges and universities to do the following:
- Educate students about careers in travel and hospitality
- Connect students with professionals in careers in travel and hospitality
- Launch an internship in travel and hospitality
- Expand the number of students seeking industry-related degrees
How to Join
Visit the WINiT website to join the organization, explore the career postings, download educational resources, and consider signing up for the WINiT Mentor program.
Congratulations to Mary Bastrentaz, our Developing Talent Committee co Chair and managing director of Accenture, Business Travel Hall of Fame Induction
GoldSpring Consulting highlights WINiT as their sixth takeaway from the GBTA Convention, 2015.
July 26, 2015
A C-level panel and lots of accomplished, inspiring, and dedicated women were among the on-stage highlights at the 2nd Annual Women in Travel Summit, attended by some 400 women (and men!) at the Hyatt Regency Orlando July 25, all exemplifying the organization’s mission to “drive change, provide support, and educate the public about the benefits of career development, visibility, and promotion of women in the travel, meeting, event, and exhibition industries.”
A few things make this organization unique, not least of which is that membership (and attendance at the WINiT Summit) is free—to everyone.
Founder Mick Lee also calls WINiT “association agnostic,” meaning that while its summit takes place on the day preceding the Global Business Travel Association, and an event earlier this year, WINiT@ACTE, took place in conjunction with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, WINiT seeks to complement rather than compete with its members’ involvement in other associations. In fact, the CEOs of GBTA, ACTE, and Meeting Professionals International appeared on stage with Lee at the opening of the summit to reinforce their collaboration and share why they are committed to WINiT’s mission. “Just before I took the helm of GBTA in 2013,” said Donna Kelliher, CTC, GLP, president & CEO of the 7,000-member GBTA and director, travel & corporate services, at Dominion, “I was at an event with Mick. She looked at me and said, ‘Notice anything missing on stage?’ I had. There were 21 speakers and only one woman—who was there to introduce a man.”
WINiT’s strategic goals include forming cooperative relationships with other meeting and travel organizations, specifically, IMEX Group, Professional Convention Management Association, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Society of Independent Show Organizers, and SITE: Society for Incentive Travel Excellence.
WINiT marked some milestones in 2015: approval as a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization; a 77 percent increase in membership to more than 1,800 members; the creation of a pilot Mentor Program that officially launches this fall; and a new Central Career Board at the WINiT Web site.
Telling it Like it Is
For all of the inspiration of the day—and there was plenty—there were doses of reality from some straight-talking panelists and speakers. During the fascinating C-suite panel (three women, two men), Claudia Sender, CEO of TAM Airlines, cut right through a comment about a lack of female talent as a reason for the dearth of women at the top (4.2 percent of CEOs and 15.7 percent of board members at Fortune 500 companies are women).
This is something she hears often, she said, but what’s far more necessary than developing female talent is “overcoming the unconscious bias” against women. She’s been in conversations, she explained, where a woman is described as bossy and hard to work with while a man with the same style is credited as “a guy who really delivers.” A woman is described as “too soft” while a man is described as “a teambuilder.”
Then she shared a perfect snapshot of unconscious bias from her own life: She’d brought her husband along to an event and stopped at the registration desk. There was some trouble finding her name badge until finally someone looked up her husband’s name. “My badge was stacked inside his,” she said. “I was the plus-one.”
A Day of Advice
On the other hand, Sender was the C-suite panelist who pointed to a particular advantage for women in business today. “Female leadership style is extremely important and highly valued in modern corporations,” she said. “Women are more inclusive than men, and they listen more.” And because this is an era where companies only succeed by considering a diversity of perspectives, these qualities are critical.
The other panelists also offered insights for climbing corporate ladders:
• “You’re not born into any role,” said Norma Corio, CFO, American Express Global Business Travel. “You always have to learn.” So don’t limit yourself to what you think you can do now. Take on assignments that stretch you. “Say yes if you know enough to go forward,” she said. “You learn from the things you do, not from the things you don’t.”
• John Snyder, global president & CEO, BCD Travel, credited his rise to the corner office to hiring and surrounding himself with the best people he could find. “It can be scary to hire someone smarter than you,” he said. But it can also be a canny strategy.
• Jennifer Hill, former CFO at Merrill Lynch, advised women to stop trying to be nice. “You need to think independently, act decisively, and care more about gaining respect than whether people like you or not.”
• And Doug Anderson, president & CEO, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, advised being willing to take a risk with your career. “I look for people who believe they are ready for the next job.”
WINiT is pleased to announce the launch of the WINiT Central Career Board. Check out the ad from the GBTA 2015 Convention program:
And please check out the WINiT Central Career Board! Post your jobs and resumé today!