The List: 10 women shaping the industry
The List features some of the most influential and intriguing people in travel.
BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour included just three figures from travel in its list of 100 most powerful women in Britain. Travel Weekly offers 10 – but with so many names left out, we could easily have made it 50. So who would be on your list?
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Carolyn McCall, chief executive, easyJet
McCall made the transition from newspapers at Guardian Media Group to the UK’s biggest airline look easy following her switch in June 2010, transforming the perception of easyJet and its punctuality. She has also made a decent job of dealing with her biggest problem: Stelios. Her next big decision, on aircraft orders, will be crucial.
Doreen McKenzie, proprietor, Knock Travel
McKenzie bought the Belfast agency she worked for in 1990 and renamed it Knock Travel. She has mellowed from the early days – she says she was “a dictator” – winning a clutch of agency awards and playing a key role in Abta by serving on five committees, including as chairman of the aviation committee. Colleagues say it’s time she rejoined the Abta board.
Harriet Green, chief executive, Thomas Cook
Green took over at Thomas Cook last July insisting: “I wasn’t chosen to manage decline.” Events since seem to bear that out. Following a career in electronic components, Green appears to have sparked a recovery: Cook’s share price has risen from 13p to 95p in the past year on the back of wholesale restructuring. Next stop: Green’s long-awaited recovery plan in March.
Angela Day, owner and chief executive, Affordable Car Hire
Affordable Car Hire founder Angela Day remortgaged her home to fund the car rental broker in 2004 and ran it from her garage. Now the company operates through 6,500 locations. Affordable may not be the biggest travel company, but few agents aren’t aware of it. Day joined the Institute of Travel and Tourism board in 2010, and is a regular sponsor of industry events.
Fiona Jeffery, chairman, World Travel Market
Jeffery has become synonymous with the industry’s biggest event in the UK and taken it worldwide. She has also found time to set up and chair water aid charity Just a Drop. Jeffery launched WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day in 2007. She is a trustee of sustainability charity the Travel Foundation and a board member of the Tourism Society. Awarded an OBE in 2012.
Julie Southern, chief operating officer, Virgin Atlantic
Southern will launch Virgin Atlantic’s first domestic services in March with Heathrow shuttle services starting from Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. She will then take Virgin into new realms through the partnership with US carrier Delta she negotiated at the end of last year. A key figure, Southern will provide continuity in a new era under a new chief executive.
Maria Miller, secretary of state, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Miller joined the cabinet when she took over at DCMS, the department responsible for tourism, last September. The Tory MP for Basingstoke, she was director of an advertising agency before entering parliament. However, marketing nous won’t help with her immediate challenges: an inquiry into her expenses and the Leveson Report on media phone hacking.
Chris Browne, managing director, Thomson Airways
Chris Browne may be worrying about exactly when the Boeing 787 will finally appear, but when it does she will head the first UK carrier to fly the aircraft, having ordered it eight years ago. Browne has run Thomson Airways and predecessor First Choice Airways since 2002, having previously worked for Carlson Worldchoice and Iberia. Awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
Amanda Wills, managing director, Virgin Holidays
Wills took over at Virgin Holidays in October 2001, days after 9/11, meaning a difficult start at a tour operator so focused on transatlantic trips. Yet Wills has presided over remarkable growth in passenger numbers and developed a chain of retail outlets in defiance of conventional wisdom about the high street. Prior to a call from Richard Branson, she was a director at Airtours.
Jo Rzymowska, general manager, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Rzymowska’s responsibility for sales, marketing and trade services for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises puts her among the best-known names in travel, following previous stints at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Universal Studios and Thomas Cook. Rzymowska is a key player in the current cycle of commission changes affecting cruise.
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