Supporting International Women’s Day

Global Travel Management embraces a gender free world of work.

We live what we hope the rest of the world should be able to imagine, ‘a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated’. These words are from the International Women’s Day website and they’re words we strive to ensure we meet, every day, at Global Travel Management.

For us, gender equality is ‘business as usual’. But we recognise that there are women around the world, and in other industries, for whom equality is far from normal.

So we have asked inspirational women leaders in the travel industry around the world to share their insights, what they do right and how they inspire their colleagues. We hope you enjoy, embrace and emulate these words so that, collectively, we can #BreakTheBias.

Bev Fearis
‘Over the years I have worked with some amazing people

Bev Fearis


The Business Travel Magazine

Bev Fearis is the Editor of The Business Travel Magazine, a multi-award-winning, bi-monthly, full-colour magazine – ‘a must-read for everyone involved with booking and managing business travel, ranging from Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants to full-time Travel Managers and procurement personnel’.

Who has inspired you?

The news reporter Kate Adie.

I remember as a child watching her on the TV reporting from war zones around the world and knowing I wanted to be a journalist.

My first job interview was with BBC radio for a position as a news reporter but I completely messed it up. They gave us a test where we had to edit five or six news stories into a two-minute news broadcast. This was back in the days of typewriters. I was so nervous that by the time I’d managed to feed the paper into the type writer, the time was up!

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles?

Over the years, I’ve worked with some amazing people – women and men – and when I’ve been able to I’ve taken them with me when I’ve moved to new publications. I’ve also mentored students on work experience who have proved themselves worthy of joining the team and have gone on to be very successful journalists. It’s really satisfying to watch them progress.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be?

To women working in business travel I would say how wonderful it is to see so many more women in senior positions in the industry than when I first began reporting on this sector back in the mid 1990s, so keep up the good work.

Revital Kristal:
Everything is possible if you have the right mindset

Revital Kristal

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Revital Kristal has a passion for the travel industry and founded create and combine cutting-edge technologies that help travel companies drive growth through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver laser-focused marketing messages.

Who has inspired you?

I think my grandmother is the person who most affected my personality and made me who I am. During WW2, when she was just 10 years old, she lost her entire family. After running and arriving to Israel, she found herself all alone and in a foreign country, yet she prevailed. She was determined to make a better life for herself, never give up on her dreams, and live life to its fullest.

I’ve always been inspired by how she kept going, and always had a positive outlook on everything. Every difficulty became a challenge, every challenge became a victory.

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles?

Besides being involved in a few women’s empowerment groups, I’m actively mentoring other female entrepreneurs, sharing my knowledge, network and experience.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be?

Stay focused, fierce, and never stop at anything. Everything is possible if you keep the right mindset.

Elkie Nicholas:
We are kindred spirits on an important mission

Elkie Nicholas

Chief Tree Hugger and Co-founder


Elkie Nicholas founded Trees4Travel, the leading carbon compensation organisation that enables travellers to remove the carbon of trips by purchasing and arranging the planting of trees in reforestation projects around the world to help restore eco-systems, biodiversity and support local communities. Trees4Travel also always assigns each tree with a share of an investment into a United Nations Certified Emissions Reduction renewable energy programme, essentially doubling their promise – making travel planet and people positive.

Who has inspired you?

My immediate thought is of course the ultimate she/her of us all ‘Mother Nature’ or ‘Mother Earth’ as she’s sometimes called.

She breathes, she grows, she changes, she’s resilient, strong, intelligent, provides us with food and water, always working to achieve and maintain harmony and balance for our environment. Mother Nature heals, nurtures, and supports all life on this planet. Ultimately all life and health depend on her.

She is magnificent, astounding, beautiful – she is my inspiration.

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles?

As a start-up and because of the ‘nature’ of our business, ever-changing and fast-moving, our work environment can be challenging at times – continual appreciation and recognition of my colleagues is therefore of utmost importance to me.

Encouraging openness, trust, curiosity and creativity are much needed when you think of the task in hand, helping in the fight against climate change. Ultimately, we understand and accept that we are all learning and growing together and that it is our shared passion to make a difference in our industry and our world that creates a deep-rooted connection between us.

Just like trees in a forest, they appear to be standing alone (we all work remotely and in different countries) but in fact they are members of an interconnected ‘wood-wide -web’ community, above and below ground – we are kindred spirits on an important mission.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be?

Women are like trees, every single one of us is a different shape, size, every single one of us is unique and special – so embrace in your uniqueness, stand tall, stand proud, believe in yourself.

As trees, bend in the wind, learn to be flexible and adaptable, stay grounded, remember your roots, and keep growing!

Kelly Packington:
Always aim to build people up

Kelly Packington

Operations Director

Global Travel Management

Kelly Packington is the Operations Director of Global Travel Management and was the most-recent addition to the company’s board, having been promoted from her role within the reservations team at the company.

Who has inspired you?

Many people have inspired me. But, if I were to select just one, without hesitating – and at the risk of sounding ‘corny’ – I would choose my Mum.

Not just because she raised me or for everything she’s done for me, not just for being my biggest cheerleader. But, because the way in which she faced her biggest hurdles, never complaining, never becoming excessively emotional, always providing strength for all of her family. She was a hard-working, ordinary superhuman.

A more widely-known inspirational woman I was lucky enough to meet was Rebecca Stephens. A journalist, a visiting fellow at Ashridge Business School, a trainer in Strategic Influencing, an author and charity fundraiser. And her own personal Everest? Well, that was becoming the first British woman to climb Everest, of course.

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles?

Three things spring immediately to mind:

I ensure we accommodate the challenges and pressures that my team members face. Whether that’s child care requirements, care commitments or even childcare requirements for pet dogs. So, typically, we have team meetings after the school runs have finished; work rotas are adjusted to fit in with domestic needs; and the office often has four-legged friends running round the office!

I make sure I surround myself with colleagues so I can hear, understand and appreciate my team’s issues, plans, suggestions and recommendations… and take them to board meetings myself. It’s one way in which I try to ensure everyone’s views are heard and acted on.

And I stick to the simple principle that you should always aim to build people up.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be?

I have three quotes I like to turn to, when thinking about women supporting other women:

Maya Angelou said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”.

Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”.

And, more recently, Malala Yousafzi very succinctly and very accurately declared, “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back”.

Natalie Pawley:
We ensure gender is never a hurdle to success at Global Travel Management

Natalie Pawley


Global Travel Management

Natalie Pawley is the longest-serving board member of Global Travel Management, having been the first-ever member of the board on its launch in 1997.

Who has inspired you?

Like any mother, I’ve been inspired by the development of my first-born child, someone who has matured and blossomed, while facing and successfully overcoming difficult challenges.  I am lucky to have someone so inspirational in my close family. 

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles?

We treat our business like a close-knit family group. 

So our natural inclination is to support the women who work for us by making the working environment perfectly suitable to them.  That starts by arranging work meetings for times that accommodate women’s priorities. 

We teach women, we recruit women, we train women, we promote women and we share with women the successes we achieve.  But we do so without discriminating. 

In short, we ensure gender is never a hurdle to success at Global Travel Management

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be? 

We can only be what we see.  So, as women, it’s vital we see successful women.  That means two things. 

First, seek out successful women and celebrate their successes with them.  And second, share your success with others when you achieve it. 

In short, ‘be the successful woman you would like to see’.

Abby Penston:
Be the woman you aspire to be and don’t settle for less

Abby Penston

Chief Executive Officer

The Focus Travel Partnership

Abby Penston is the CEO of the Focus Travel Partnership, the UK’s leading business travel consortium for Travel Management Companies. Launched in 1999 as a division of the Advantage Travel Group, Focus has a wealth of knowledge as well as industry contacts and, across its central team, has more than 160 years of business travel experience.

Who has inspired you? 

I am blessed to have a huge army of amazing women in my life and feel inspired daily by them, from my girlfriends, family members, my awesome team at Focus and my daughter all of whom inspire and drive me as business woman, friend and mother each day.

Inspiration can come in so many formats but having a group of ladies at home and at work who really are your ride or die family makes the many challenges we all face bearable and over the last two years those challenges have come in hard and fast.

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles? 

I would like to think by providing a platform and opportunities to progress is something I have always delivered. I would like to think I am open and supportive when it comes to progression and will always share my career highs and lows as examples, good, bad and the ugly!

To speak freely with my teams I hope in itself is a supportive approach, life isn’t always easy and we all make mistakes but its how we manage those lows as well as the highs that determines the type of leader we chose to be.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be? 

Be true to yourself, trust in your instinct and surround yourself with a supportive network. Be in a position to let people lean on you when needed but be brave enough to know when to lean on others as well, it really is ok to ask for help. The people and organisations we surround ourselves reflect just as much on you than you do yourself, chose your company wisely.

Integrity for me is the value I protect the fiercest, be the woman you aspire to be and don’t settle for less, above all else try and have some fun along the way!

Kathryn Wallington:
Never stop challenging yourself, but always be respectful

Kathryn Wallington

Head of Middle East and Africa


Kathryn Wallington heads up the Middle East and Africa regions for global travel platform Travelport, focusing on enabling more content, providing better travel retailing capabilities and driving down the costs of travel and managing journeys.

Who has inspired you?

There are so many inspirational women that have impacted my life, most of all my mother who continues to push me every day; J.K. Rowling whose personal story is inspirational; and one that has inspired me since I was a little girl: Princess Diana. Her life was tragically cut short, but her inspiring work with AIDS suffers and anti- landmine campaigns secured Princess Diana’s legacy. She truly was ‘The People’s Princess’.

To me Diana was a lot more than a Princess standing by the side of her Prince. Like every woman she had a million different roles – of a loving mother of two children, of an independent woman, who became an example and inspiration for millions of people.

One of Diana famous quotes, of which I am a true advocate and I regularly recite to my children, is ‘carry out a random act of kindness, with no exception of reward, safe in the knowledge that, one day, someone might do the same for you’.  

What steps have you taken to support and encourage women colleagues in their roles? 

Being a good example and sharing my experiences where I can.

I am a great listener and have mentored and supported colleagues to place an importance on self -confidence as well as challenging them.

I love to – and always do – celebrate women’s accomplishments and encourage them to do more.

If you could offer words of support to women, what would they be? 

It is important to be confident and secure in who you are if you want to succeed.

I am also a firm advocate in challenging yourself to the extent of being out of your comfort zone, which supports you to grow. Never stop challenging yourself, but always be respectful. Be hungry to learn and always invest in your team – you cannot do it alone.

Enjoy and embrace change effectively, as it’s inevitable. Embrace it.

GTM supports the Travel Day of Action

Global Travel Management is supporting the industry-wide campaign, Travel Day of Action on 23 June.

The event takes place following the Government’s review of the traffic light system – in which countries were moved from green to amber and amber to red, while none was moved in the opposite direction – and its failure to extend sector-specific support for the travel and aviation industries.

The day of action will be calling on the UK Government to

  • Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan; and to
  • Bring forward a package of tailored financial support to recognise that the unlocking of international travel, and hence businesses’ ability to trade and generate income, will be much slower than first anticipated, and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy. 
Scott Pawley made a plea to the Prime Minister to meet the Travel Day of Action’s demands

All parts of the travel industry have been invited to participate, including travel management companies, leisure travel agents, airlines, airports, tour operators, suppliers and partners.

The day will be all about putting forward a positive plan for the Government. Scott Pawley, Managing Director of Global Travel Management explained that:

London, the world’s number one most connected city in 2019, saw an 88% decline in connectivity between April 2019 and April 2021. UK residents travelling overseas generate over £53 billion in domestic spending – but with borders being closed and travel to many countries being made illegal for most individuals, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, and many more remain at great risk.

The next weeks will be critical for the travel industry, as we look ahead to the next review on 28 June when the Government is expected to announce another review of both the traffic light list and also the requirements and measures in place for international travel. The Travel Day of Action is a campaign we are happy to support, as it carries two, important messages.

We want the Government to help the industry and businesses who need to travel by taking the two actions we are calling for. Allowing a risk-managed approach to opening up international travel; and providing travel industry support to help businesses cope with the on-going restrictions, now entering their sixteenth month.

The travel industry is calling on the UK Government to allow international travel to return safely in a risk-managed way and to bring forward a package of tailored financial support.

Scott has invited the MP for GTM’s Woking constituency, Jonathan Lord to the event, which takes place on College Green, outside the Palace of Westminster. Scott explained:

I have written to Jonathan Lord to put forward the campaign’s two, positive suggestions. I hope he will be able to join us on College Green immediately after Prime Minister’s Question Time, so that he can see the strength of the support behind the campaign. It’s a positive message and I hope we can get the message across.

Other countries are forging ahead with risk-based schemes that allow safe travel, most recently Germany, France and Spain. The UK is falling behind other nations in its travel restart plans and risks becoming an outlier, undermining our aspirations for Global Britain.

Scott also explained that, while some businesses in the travel industry have suffered greatly over the course of the pandemic response, it is important that the financially-stronger companies stand up. Scott said,

We have already seen airlines and travel agents succumb to the ravages of the pandemic response. So it’s important that financially sound travel management companies like us get behind this campaign. The travel industry needs competition – it’s vital we don’t lose any more names from the travel sector.

The campaign will attract travel industry members from across the UK, with events taking place around the country. And Sales Director Paul Baker pointed out that GTM clients will continue to receive the highest levels of service they expect during the day:

It’s a socially distanced, responsible campaign event, with attendance restricted to the hundreds of ticket holders who have pre-registered. We have several members of the GTM management team taking part in the event, including Kelly Packington, our Director of Operations. So, I have worked with Kelly to ensure all operational aspects of her – and her team’s – role will be covered.

All GTM clients travelling on 23 June will be fully supported, as usual.

We are calling on the UK Government to:
Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a traffic-light system, by expanding the Green list in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.
Bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including extension of furlough support, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.