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Cressida Sergeant

Cressida Sergeant

Cressida is the Chief Commercial Officer at Traveltek

  • Location: Manchester Area, UK 

  • Corporate title: Chief Commercial Officer 

  • Company: Traveltek 

  • Sector: Technology & Travel 

  • University degree: BSc Business & Sport Science, Brunel University, London

How does your usual day look like?

I start my day at 6am most days. Some days I have APAC calls, so I have to balance this with an early morning run some days. My kids just need a little encouragement in the mornings these days for school. When I’m not travelling to see clients, I’m based at home. My week is usually filled with Zoom calls earlier in the week. This can be revenue focused with my team to review sales activity. I check salesforce daily to ensure that we are on track. I will review Gong, so I can listen to sales calls from the previous day. I have 1-2-1’s with all my direct reports each week to ensure everyone is on track with their own teams and to give any support needed. We have weekly calls with both development squads as we have 2 product teams for different geographical regions. Then around 1pm my team in Canada come online.

The latter part of my week tends to be filled with a mix of client requests - my inbox is always busy!, marketing planning, content ideas. There is also time I make each week for more strategic planning and thinking. I take an active role in our people and culture, so this is an area which always keeps me busy too.

I try to log off my 6pm to see the kids for a few hours and then at the start of the week, I tend to be back online around 8pm for a few hours. The emails and slacks are relentless and then APAC is back online my evening time, so it can be difficult to switch off sometimes.

We have an early 2pm Friday finish. I don’t often get the chance to utilise this, but in the summer when I do, it's nice having a guilt free early Friday finish, especially when Monday to Thursday, the shift I put in, can be a long one.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

  • No day or week is the same

  • Watching team members grow and learn

  • Watching customers gain success through technology adoption

  • Meeting and connecting with new people - globally

  • The amount I’m challenging in this role, the challenges are plentiful and always drain my brain!

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

  • Communication and translation, tech speak and commercial speak are 2 very different languages.

  • I also have to find ways to communicate often complex technical challenges in a simple way for multiple stakeholders.

  • Negotiation is also key in this role, no one ever wants to pay for technology they view it as a cost rather than an enabler.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

Signing Sabre was a career highlight for me. It took me 4 years to secure this deal for Traveltek and I feel it was the turning point with our success in the US at the end of 2022.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

I think every decision where you need to restructure or cut costs and it affects people I find tough.

The hardest day of my career was when I chose to leave the health and fitness industry, an industry I loved. I was in charge the day a fatal accident happened and after counselling, it was explained to me that sometimes walking away and giving in, should be seen as strength and not failure. Ultimately this led me to a career in travel and I’m very grateful for that experience.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

People and Insights! The workplace would be so much better if everyone read ‘surrounded by idiots’ and spent time learning about personalities. When I was younger I would get angry that I felt certain people were not enthusiastic and participated in team meetings, I quickly learned not everyone feels comfortable contributing in the same way. Knowing how all personalities need to be encouraged and managed to get the best from them, was a game changer for me. This insight and understanding also helps with confrontation. Healthy tension at work is necessary for success, but knowing how to navigate getting the best from everyone has been a crucial learning for me.

How did you get to become a Chief Commercial Officer?

There is no shortcut to the C suite, its grit, determination and hard work. This role requires an ability to network, negotiate, and manage a sales team. Show flexibility and work at pace. This role also requires experience in complex deal negotiation and commercial strategy. Its also the role when you get the pressure and stress of the commercial performance. So it can be hero to zero very quickly and vice versa. You are only ever as good as your performance last month!

If you could give women in their 30s one piece of advice (it can be anything) - what would you say to them?

Be brave.

Have the courage to set your boundaries at work, so you are not afraid of taking time off for sports day or the Christmas nativity. Those years do not last long. Equally don’t let other women shame you for wanting to be a working Mum, if that's your choice. Make your own decisions, be data driven, but also use your intuition at times. Challenge yourself outside your comfort zone. You are tougher than you think.

Remember fortune favours the brave.

There is never a wrong decision, just a new opportunity to learn.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I never shy away from tough decisions. However I like to think I always execute those sometimes tough decisions in the most professional and sensitive ways.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

On a Saturday mostly at the side of a football pitch! Both my son and daughter are avid players. My weekends are all about my family, seeing friends and managing life admin, as I get zero time to concentrate on anything other than work Monday to Thursday! I try to fit in some running too - it's my ability to disconnect from technology and think.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

The last 5 years I’ve been through a business transformation. In the middle of this has been a global pandemic. Try leading a commercial team through selling ‘Travel technology software solutions’ when no one is travelling! I believe a positive mindset and an ability to always find solutions, creates a ripple effect and creates a positive team. Recognise stress and find ways to deal with. Know when you need a long weekend, a holiday or to just log off early. Being a good leader also means seeing this in your team members and helping them manage their stress too. You cannot be resilient and make good decisions if you are stressed. Also think like a swan - graceful on the surface and remember no one sees the wild paddling beneath the surface!

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

I did my degree in business and sport science, I wanted to run my own health club! When I was younger I coached kids in all sports and I really enjoyed it.

What are you currently learning or what’s one of the last things you learnt?

I’m currently reading ‘High Performance’ by Jake Humphrey.

I like books that I can relate to and help with tangible actions. I’m always looking for how I can get a little more from the team and help them to learn something new each month.

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey?

Emma Harris is one of the most inspiring females I’ve ever met (link here). We met when I worked on a project for Eurostar many moons ago. She gives wonderful advice, she is fearless and lifts up women around her, which is a wonderful trait.

I also worked for Victoria Sanders at Teletext, who is also a wonderful female leader and promoted me when I was 7 months pregnant. Victoria again is fearless, tough and incredibly hard working. I’m honoured to call both these ladies friends these days.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

I love the idea of a parachute jump, but I’m petrified of heights!

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

  • Question: How do we inspire more women into careers in technology?

  • Answer: We need to create more role models and employers need to work closer with the education system. Girls need to have role models and leaders they can aspire to be like and look up to.

The previous interviewee left a question for you! “Imagine you could beam yourself to any place on earth for the next 24 hours, where would you go and what would you do?"

South Africa, on safari! I’d love to take my kids to experience an early morning on the savannah, it's one of my greatest travel experiences to date.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: I make wine disappear ;-)

  • Favourite restaurant: Sticky Walnut, Chester

  • Favourite fashion brand: I really dislike shopping!

  • Favourite beauty product: All things beauty pie

  • Favourite perfume: La Vie est belle, Lancôme

  • Book recommendation: Stieg Larsson’s trilogy - 'The girl with the dragon tattoo' is still one of my favourite reads, or 'Lessons in chemistry' - I loved too.

  • Next holiday destination: Athens

  • Your hobby: Running (although not as regularly as I should!)

  • Favourite mantra: "Work hard to get good, then work harder to get better."

  • Who inspires you? Sarina Wiegman, Head Coach of the English Women's Football team

  • Tea or Coffee: Tea

  • Red wine or White wine: White

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning bird

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog person

Thank you Cressida for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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