Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
This year’s Business Travel Awards saw the introduction of a new category – Rising Star Of The Year.
It was won by Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s 24 hour service centre manager Samantha Simmons. The judges all agreed it was an excellent submission – someone who joined the company as a teenager, as an administrative assistant, and has risen through the ranks to be running a team of 44.
Simmons’ career trajectory at CWT has been remarkable. In 14 years she has gone from being an administrative assistant to running the entire global emergency service centre in Heathrow.
BBT caught up with her to discuss the award, breaking into the industry and life at one of the world’s largest TMCs.
How did you break into the travel industry and end up working for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT)?
I did a week work experience for CWT while I was still at school. Then I moved into retail travel and after a few months the company decided they were relocating and I was made redundant so I immediately contacted CWT and asked them for vacancies. They had some administration positions, so I did the interview and that’s where my CWT journey started.
I started at CWT in 2001 then in 2004 my daughter was born so came back on a part time basis, but I’m quite an ambitious lady so began gradually increasing my hours and taking on more responsibility in the role and developing my career.
So CWT promotes well internally?
Yes we’re incredibly fortunate it’s a big global company and there are various functions and roles that you can undertake. So I was very much supported by CWT in my ambitious quest for rapid development.
I was promoted to admin/supervisor so I started to look at processes and procedures and streamline operations. I got to a point where I could turn my work load around very quickly and began to involve myself in other areas and projects and expand my skills.
What most appeals about your role?
I think it’s quite a dynamic and diverse. I’m keen on continuous improvement and operational excellence and the operations role encompasses all of that and gives you the opportunity to implement initiatives and streamline the tools and technology, so we can really carry forward the best possible service to our clients.
Is there anything you’d like to see improved in the company?
At CWT we are committed to continuous improvement. 2015 was the first year the 24-hour service centre was involved in CWT’s promotional excellence programme – this was because the centre is unique in their requirements. All the centres globally will be involved in the promotional excellence programme.
Where do you see your career at CWT heading?
I’ve only been in my role for seven months so the primary focus is trying to obtain my [management training award] ‘Lean Six Sigma’, push operational excellence and see the centre become better every day. But I’m also going to focus in development within the team.
You picked up the Rising Star award at the 2016 Business Travel Awards. What did this mean to you and was it a surprise?
Winning the Rising Star Award meant a huge amount to me, just such an honour and I had the most fantastic evening.
The award sits proudly in my office front and centre. It was a great honour for me and my team. Nothing at CWT is an individual effort and it was so nice for me to be able to go and share the award with the team and it was really engaging and motivating to show them what we can all achieve.