Charlotte Blackwell, Vice President, Global Sales Enablement, American Express Global Business Travel
As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is highlighting some of its female executives. Today we shine the spotlight on Charlotte Blackwell, Vice President, Global Sales Enablement.
Charlotte works closely with sales and client management teams and cross-functional business leaders, making sure they’re fully equipped when in the field, and ensuring go-to-market goals are achieved. The role gives Charlotte a unique view across trends clients are most interested in and what they want from their TMC when it comes to managing or improving their existing travel programme.
Charlotte has over 20 years of combined vendor and client-side experience in the corporate and luxury travel space. Prior to GBT, she held roles at Rue La La, Cendant Travel Distribution Services and Travelport.
- What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, it’s about the importance of being cognizant of the need for equality and inclusion in the workplace. This year’s theme, “balance for better” means having the right balance of people, not just in terms of gender, but all minorities. This applies at all levels, and organizations must make sure that everyone is appropriately represented and heard.
- What’s one barrier that you have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field/industry? How did you overcome it?
I’ve held a variety of roles throughout my career, including in the product technology field. There were fewer women in this space and that alone posed a barrier. However, my mother raised me to be an independent thinker; she taught me to always be forthright and instilled the importance of making certain your voice was heard, and in the right way. Equally, listening to colleagues ensured that I was also taking others views into account, enabling me to come back with a well-articulated, informed response in any given situation. This allowed me to build credibility in a male-dominated space. While I may have been the one to show up for these challenges on a day-to-day basis, I do have to give my mum a lot of credit for the belief in myself that she gave me.
- What is the driving force behind everything you do…what keeps you motivated and driven daily?
It’s a combination of being my own worst critic and loving what I do. I want to show up, work hard and be proud of what my team and I achieve, because I’m passionate about the job and set very high expectations for myself. It’s what keeps me going. The motivation lies in both the satisfaction when the team is recognised and having a positive impact on other peoples’ experiences.
- What advice would you give someone looking to start working in the business travel industry?
I think the most important thing is to expect the unexpected! You’re dealing with an industry that has all these disruptors coming in, challenging the ways the industry works. They are very impactful and you need to know what these changes mean to you and what they mean to your clients and colleagues. So even though corporate travel programmes have been around for decades, these disruptors coming in create changes in both the supplier and the traveller base. That demands the need to be flexible, but also hungry for knowledge and information to enable you to keep up with what is happening on any given day.
- Lastly, what three skills do you think are essential to be a great leader?
Firstly, ensure you bring in top talent. When I’m hiring, I look for people who could be my succession plan and never shy away from that or feel threatened by it. Secondly, it’s really important to listen. We hire people because they’re talented, so we must listen to them. Finally, develop the team. You need to invest in your team, empower them and show you trust them. If people feel they have your support and trust, it gives them the freedom of ownership and the capability to do their job to the best of their ability.
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