Published on : Saturday, April 20, 2019
In a rapidly advancing digital age, the tourism industry has incorporated latest technology to deliver enhanced user experiences. With the summer approaching, it was time to learn more about how travel companies like Booking.com are preparing for advancements like machine learning and artificial intelligence to fine-tune holidays.
Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com, spoke in details about the development. As a powerhouse woman in tech and a keynote speaker at the upcoming TNW Conference, she spoke about diversity, sustainable tourism, and the future of the industry.
Q: You have been vocal and passionate about diversity in the tech industry for a long time. What would you say are the biggest strides we’ve made, and the biggest hurdles we now face? How do you think we’ll overcome them?
A: Incredible strides have been made towards diversifying the tech industry over the past few years, but we still have a long way to go. I’m unbelievably proud that at Booking.com we have over 17,000 employees across the globe, representing over 140 nationalities. Our global workforce comprises more than 50 per cent women, and within our leadership team women hold one third of the positions. But women and minorities across the industry are still under-represented, particularly in core tech and leadership roles. At Booking.com, we are still only 20 per cent women within tech roles, something we are immensely focused on improving. We must continue to encourage additional diversity, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because businesses ultimately benefit from a diverse workforce.
Ultimately, businesses in today’s day and age must take a strong stance in supporting gender equality, continue to openly discuss diversity, and make improvements within their own organizations through enhancing career progression policies, assuring equal pay, and conducting unconscious bias training. We have to keep this conversation – and actionable steps that come from these talks at the top of our mind, in order to continue to make improvements.
Q: As a successful woman, you are a role model to many young women. Do you have any advice for those starting their career in tech?
A: The advice I’d give to anyone starting out is to take risks and not be afraid of new challenges or opportunities. My career path was not obvious, I had to traverse many twists and turns along the way to get where I am today. It required taking some chances. But those were the moments where I learned the most. Without challenging yourself, growth opportunities are limited. So take the risks. You will be better for it in the long run, regardless of the short-term hardships.