US Region Board Member Election: Candidate Information

The US Region Board Member is elected by the ACTE members in the US region and represents the interests of all members of the region in addition to serving the entire ACTE membership. All ACTE US members in good standing are eligible to vote. The Board of Directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the association and for overseeing the fulfillment of ACTE’s mission. The US Board member will serve a three-year term beginning in February 2018.

ACTE US Members Vote Now!


US Region Board Member 
Candidates

Cheryl Benjamin
Manager, Travel Services
Dart Container

View LinkedIn Profile
View Candidate Questionnaire
  Michelle Hunt
Regional Category Manager
DHL
View LinkedIn Profile
View Candidate Questionnaire
 
  Cathy Sharpe
Director, Strategic Sourcing, Global T&E
Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
View LinkedIn Profile
View Candidate Questionnaire
  Meredith Smith
Executive Director, Strategic Sourcing and Enterprise Services
Merck & Co.
View LinkedIn Profile
View Candidate Questionnaire
 

 

*Before casting your vote, please take a moment to review each of the candidate's questionnaire responses and LinkedIn profiles for a better understanding of their background, experience and interest in serving on the ACTE Board of Directors.

Cheryl Benjamin
Manager, Travel Services
Dart Container
Michelle Hunt
Regional Category Manager
DHL

Why do you want to serve on the ACTE Board of Directors?

Why do you want to serve on the ACTE Board of Directors?

When I attended my first ACTE conference (I don’t remember the exact year or location), I had no idea what to expect; it was the first real corporate travel conference I had been to. What has stuck in my mind for all these years was the caliber of industry professionals who attended and the great educational content offered. Over the years, this has not changed for me. With over 28 years in the travel industry, I always come away with new ideas from what I consider to be the experts in the business.

ACTE has been a large part of my development and career growth. The opportunities I’ve had at Dart have been a direct result of knowledge I’ve gained at every conference, educational forum, or webinar I’ve attended. I’ve had excellent mentors that I met through ACTE. My time on the ACTE US Council and the conference Advisory Boards have been equally as rewarding and eye-opening. 

Most important is that I believe in the mission and vision of the association. The association and conference has grown every year and this hasn’t happened by accident. It is due to the hard work and dedication of the staff and Board. It is the type of association that I am proud to be a member of and I feel it is now my time to give back to an industry that I love. 
Serving on the ACTE Board of Directors will allow me to continue to pay it forward. To give back to an organization that I have learned from and gained expertise and connections from keeps the life-cycle going.

I want to help influence the association direction for the empowerment and advancement of the membership. This industry changes daily, some are technology disruptors, some are out of our control reactions, never before experienced situations and some is the nature of this business.

We need to provide something for all members, new to the industry eager to learn, experienced in the industry and eager to learn, forced to keep up or looking for new ideas.
 

What skills and experience would you bring to the Board of Directors that would benefit ACTE?

What skills and experience would you bring to the Board of Directors that would benefit ACTE?

I started out writing about all the years of experience I have in the industry but over the weekend I ran into a young woman who worked for me years ago. She reminded me that one of the most important things I bring to any job is my love of helping people. Listening to what their challenges are and helping them find the tools to overcome them. This, along with my love for the industry, would be an asset to the ACTE Board. 

Professionally, the skills and experience I would bring to ACTE center on my unique operating structure at Dart. Our travel program is a CTD, which operates in house with little outsourcing. This has given me an opportunity to understand the pains of the TMC and suppliers, a different perspective on operating costs, and a definite interest in the corporate traveler. One of my biggest accomplishments has been the ability to build a program that works for Dart and the travelers. 

We have entered a new phase in the industry, one centered on traveler engagement and technology; I’ve always been a strong voice in both areas. I understand the small to mid-market travel program and the challenges they face trying to balance the program and costs. I walk in their shoes and can relate to the challenges. 

Finally, I will bring the thirst for knowledge and improvements; I’ve never shied away from a challenge. I feel this is an asset that would benefit the Board and the membership.
More than 20 years industry experience as both a supplier & buyer brings a unique perspective. My goal is to be inclusive and not exclusive with information, education. To share what I have experienced with the board/membership, what has worked and what has not and why. 

I bring an open mind to the process. I am a participant, not just a listener, I believe you must be active to be effective, be constructive.

A few years ago, I coined a slogan at my company The 4-E principle. Engage, Educate, Elevate & Evolve.

Engage your customers & suppliers, Educate them, it Elevates their experience and Evolve as your customer and supplier needs change as the industry changes.
 
Cathy Sharpe
Director, Strategic Sourcing, Global T&E
Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
Meredith Smith
Executive Director, Strategic Sourcing and Enterprise Services
Merck & Co.

Why do you want to serve on the ACTE Board of Directors?

Why do you want to serve on the ACTE Board of Directors?

As a member of the ACTE Board of Directors, I would strive to deliver sustained and noteworthy contributions to ACTE and the Corporate Travel Industry that has positive impacts on the future of the industry and its members. I would work to further broaden the breadth of the organization, increase membership and dedicated involvement. I believe I can help to also expand on opportunities to educate, strengthen and influence collaboration within the buyer and seller travel industry communities. Having had the privilege to serve on the Board of Directors for ACTE in Asia Pacific, I am familiar with the intent, role, responsibilities and commitment required for the Board and am subsequently committed to the time and emotional commitment. I moved to the USA in July 2014 to take on the Global Operations lead role for Merck which entailed managing a team of 160+, Travel, Payment and Meetings Strategic Suppliers, SMMP implementations and integration between the three pillars. I stepped out of ACTE to concentrate on success of these programs to my internal customer and my team but I realized in hindsight, that I should have been leveraging my peers and external colleagues even more during this time. I am deeply committed to helping others know that they don’t have to ‘go it alone’ and feel this role will help enable this. One of the responsibilities of the Board is to influence future direction through Executive Thought Leadership and I feel I can actively contribute to this mission with my global experience.

What skills and experience would you bring to the Board of Directors that would benefit ACTE?

What skills and experience would you bring to the Board of Directors that would benefit ACTE?

In my current role as Director of Global T&E for ITW, l engineered the flexible consolidation of roughly 750 independent businesses from 7 industry segments with operations in 33 countries to one single travel and expense platform providing the benefits of consistency and cost avoidance through a globally integrated service platform. These standardized operating practices around the world increased management and purchasing control. We now measure performance globally through one consistent approach across all markets and have incorporated local/regional market variations. By building strong and trusting partnerships within and between our team, our suppliers, and ITW’s businesses, we have enhanced ITW’s ability to drive results and implement changes quickly. We have realized traveler satisfaction, solid data integrity, superior traveler safety and security, maximized policy compliance, and increased our global leverage with key suppliers. 

Over the course of my +25 year career I have had the opportunity to work on both the buyer and seller sides of our industry. Prior to my current role, I was Director of Account Management for TQ3 Navigant and President of Heritage Travel. I have accredited and built a corporate travel business and have strong understanding of TMC management, supplier relations, operations and service delivery. I am a thought leader in our industry and have partnered with many suppliers to pilot programs, influence product offerings and further innovation for the benefit of our industry.
When I started with Merck in 2008 I only managed Travel and Payment for Asia Pacific and Japan but by the time I left Singapore in 2014, I had set up a full meetings organization and was in process of implementing SMMP with a lofty goal of 42 countries in 2 years. After nearly 4 years in the US, I feel that I understand the landscape enough to drive and address aspects that would really benefit the broader membership base. The regulatory and compliance aspects of certain industries drives the need for controls and transparency that have challenged this industry and there is no room anymore for silo’d decision making. I bring to the table ‘hands on’ experience with complex countries that gives me a good understanding of different global challenges, opportunities and best practices not just in Travel but in the integration of Meetings. My team was responsible for full E2E design, global implementation, optimization reporting, stakeholder and partner management. I have sufficient knowledge in Technology implementations and capabilities to both ‘do damage’, and address some of the bigger questions we are facing as an industry with the need for automation and innovation.

Prior to joining Merck, I worked for Intel in their Global procurement organization but started my career in hotels as a Revenue manager for both Starwood and Hyatt Hotels.