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GBTA VDR 2021 - Centre Stage Speakers Biographies

Mike Berners-Lee, Founder, Small World Consulting

Mike Berners-Lee is an expert speaker on sustainability and on how we can address this overarching 21st century challenge.   He is the founder of Small World Consulting, an associate company of Lancaster University, which is a world leader in the field of supply chain carbon metrics and management. Small World works with organisations of all sizes and sectors, from the world’s largest tech giants to SMEs. Mike is a professor at Lancaster University, where his research includes sustainable food systems and carbon metrics. He has made numerous speaking, radio and television broadcast appearances to promote public awareness of sustainability and climate change issues, and most notably appeared in Climate Change: The Facts alongside Sir David Attenborough. He is the author of three acclaimed books.

Ariel Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder, TripActions

Linkedin | AngelList | Crunchbase

Ariel Cohen is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of TripActions, where he is focused on the company’s growth. Ariel has 20 years of experience in product development.  His journey of entrepreneurship started in 2012 with StreamOnce, a business multimedia integration platform that was acquired by Jive Software, where he served as VP of Product Management before launching TripActions in May 2015. Prior to StreamOnce, Ariel led Product Management in a senior leadership role at Hewlett-Packard. Ariel earned an EMBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics, majoring in financing and information systems at Israel Business College.

Meenaz Diamond, Senior Vice President Sales Worldwide, Accor

Based in Paris, Meenaz heads up the sales function for Accor, overseeing Corporate Business Travel, Meetings & Events, Leisure & Wholesale and Airline market segments.

In this role she leads the strategic direction for these market segments and oversees sales teams managing global accounts to drive business to Accor’s diverse portfolio of 40+ brands from ultra-luxury to economy. Iconic Accor brands include Fairmont, Sofitel, Raffles while premium and midscale brands include Pullman, Novotel & Mercure. The portfolio also includes dynamic lifestyle brands such as Mama Shelter, 25 Hours, SLS, Delano, 21c Museum Hotels and more, now gathered under the umbrella of Ennismore. Ensuring the right foundational framework for customer account management, supporting offers, pricing and lead generation through distributed channels for B2B is part of the role.

Previously based in North America for four years where she oversaw Global Sales for North & Central America and prior to that in London for 10 years with FRHI Hotels (acquired by Accor in 2016), overseeing global sales teams in EMEA and India. Her experience spans over 25+years in leadership positions in hospitality marketing and sales at property, divisional and head quarter level, working with brands including Starwood and Le Meridien.

Meenaz holds a Masters in International Hotel Management from Surrey University (UK), a BSc Honours in French & Politics from Manchester University and speaks (conversational) French and Hindi.

Carol Fergus, Director of Global Travel, Events and Ground Transportation, Fidelity International

Carol Fergus is an experienced Director of Global Travel, Events and Ground Transportation, currently working for Fidelity International; with over 30 years in the Travel industry, in procurement/vendor management and operationally, mainly in the financial services sector.

Carol has project led several key global travel related initiatives and is highly conversed and skilled across the various travel categories. She has also built and managed several teams globally and is extremely inclusive and a strong operator.

Carol is a professional graduated with an MSc in Facilities Management taken at Westminster University and CIPS qualified. Her travel journey has seen Carol recently appointed on the GBTA Europe Advisory board, is Vice Chair of their Diversity & Inclusion strand and Co-Lead on the TAMS Diversity, Inclusion and Equity group.  In; addition she has held a few other Advisory roles, written and critiqued key topics in various travel magazines, sat on panels, steering committees and spoken at many industry events.

Carol was recently awarded ITM Travel Buyer of the year and listed as an EmPower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Future Leader 2021.  Her byword is ‘BE SEEN TO BE’

Svend Leirvaag, Vice President Industry Affairs, Amadeus

Svend Leirvaag, Vice President Industry and Regulatory Affairs, leads Amadeus’ government and institutional affairs globally.

Svend holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and started his career as a management trainee in Scandinavian Airlines in 1986, before joining newly established Amadeus in 1988. He returned to SAS in 1992 as Director of Marketing & Distribution. Working for the SAS CEO he led the implementation of TQM/LEAN in SAS’ commercial division worldwide, and subsequently the development and implementation of SAS’ travel agency programme in Scandinavia. After leaving SAS in 1997 he embarked on a successful management consulting career, acting as trusted advisor to top management across different industries and projects, including the establishment of a low-cost airline and an online travel agency. Svend rejoined Amadeus in 2011 to build the government and institutional affairs function he still leads.

Svend is a respected travel industry expert and has broad international management and consulting experience from airlines, hotel chains, travel management companies, and travel distribution.

Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President for EMEA, GBTA

Catherine Logan is GBTA’s Regional Vice President for EMEA where she is responsible for the development and delivery of GBTA activities in the region. Prior to joining GBTA as Marketing and Membership Director in 2012, Catherine worked in a number of senior marketing roles with Capita Plc and Bank of Ireland followed by 4 years establishing and running a successful events and marketing company in partnership with a colleague and friend.

She is based in Northern Ireland but enjoys the extensive travel that comes with her role.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA

Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), leads the organization’s staff and services, providing value to members, sponsors and partners. She was named to the association in February 2021 and has spearheaded association and industry return and recovery from recent pandemic challenges.

Suzanne is a transformation-focused executive who has successfully led teams and product/service innovation through times of great change throughout her career. Prior to GBTA, she served as HRS’s SVP-Americas and Managing Director-North America. She has also held senior leadership roles at Sabre Holdings, Verizon and Intuit.

Currently residing in New York, Suzanne has visited nearly 40 countries on her professional and personal travels and flown nearly 3 million air miles.

Ben Park, Senior Director Procurement & Travel, Parexel

Global procurement expert for the last 12 years optimizing the company’s Travel & Expense offering, creating value through enhancing service, promoting safety, and maximizing savings. Ben manages the Parexel Global Travel & Expense team and is responsible for the strategic direction and overall management of the company’s worldwide travel program.

Khaled Shahbo, Senior Vice President/Managing Director, Enterprise Holdings, European Operations

Khaled Shahbo was named as Senior Vice President, Europe for Enterprise Holdings in July 2021. He is responsible for the business’s three brands, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental, throughout the continent. This includes Enterprise’s wholly owned operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany, as well as an extensive number of franchise relationships throughout Europe. In his 30 years with the company, Khaled has been instrumental in Enterprise’s growth and serves as one of the company’s most senior executives.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Khaled emigrated to the United States with his family at a young age.

In 1991, Khaled joined Enterprise’s renowned Management Training Programme and progressed rapidly through the organisation at every operational and managerial level. He moved to the UK in 1994 to help expand the Enterprise brand as the regional Rental Manager in the North West of England.

Khaled supports several community and philanthropic programmes. He is a board member of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, The British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA), Leaseurope, Bridge Builders and has also joined the Business in the Community Race Equality Leadership Team.