Travel buyer of the year 2017 revealed

Following weeks of TMCs, corporate travel procurement managers and other travel suppliers sending in their nominations for the Travel Buyer of the Year 2017 Award, the winner was finally announced last night (October 18) at the annual Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Southern Africa annual conference which was held at Mount Grace Country House & Spa.

FNB Travel Procurement senior specialist Shirene Brennan was awarded Travel buyer of the year 2017,  Leyonie Marais from Ricoh South Africa was named runner-up. Standard Bank travel manager Niroshnee Mannikam and Ericsson travel category manager Carol Graaff were the top four finalists.

Travel & Meetings Buyer (TAM) in conjunction with the GBTA opened nominations for the 2017 Travel Buyer of the Year Award in August 2017. 18 nominations were placed in total, with Shirene Brennan receiving five nominations from her peers – more than any other nominee.

After nominations closed on September 30, an independent judging panel at Now Media narrowed the 18 nominations down to the four finalists. A questionnaire was then sent to each of the finalists, asking them to discuss how they have prioritised and responded to with change in their organisations over the past year.

TAM publisher Anton Marsh, GBTA chairman Howard Stephens and GBTA regional marketing and sponsorship manager Sharon Richards-Lund deliberated the responses received and scored each finalists out of 25. The responses were anonymous and the names of each respondent was not revealed until the judging process was completed.

Brennan and Marais were unanimously named first and second respectively, with only a few points separating them.

“Shirene stood out to me when she mentioned that she went about getting traveller, exco and supplier buy-in by showing stakeholders the benefits to them as a business unit and for the Group as a whole if they support and drive the solutions proposed. This was a great answer because it is crucial in our business,” says the GBTA’s Howard Stephens, who is now retired after serving as cpo at Nedbank for 20 years.

She also illustrated her department’s focus on driving transformation, adopting technology and dealing with change across all levels in the organisation, adds Sharon Richard-Lund.

“We are happy with the growth of the awards this year. An award like this showcases people who stand out as role models for driving high standards and professionalism which hopefully filter through the industry,” commented Marsh.

Excerpts from Travel and Meetings Buyer – article written by Darise Foster

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