Op-Ed by the GBTA Board of Directors
The past two months have represented one of the most challenging stretches in the 52-year history of the Global Business Travel Association. The massive public health and economic consequences of a worldwide pandemic would have been crisis enough for any organization. But to face troubling allegations of workplace misconduct leveled against our then-CEO created for GBTA a “triple whammy” of critical issues requiring immediate decisive action.
With a comprehensive investigation into those accusations now complete and with GBTA under new leadership, each of us who voluntarily serve on the GBTA Board stand poised to resume moving the association forward. We hope our colleagues, fellow leaders and GBTA’s more than 9,000 members share that readiness, because it goes nearly without saying that our industry faces more rough days ahead – difficulties that GBTA must play a lead role in surmounting.
For more than a half-century, GBTA has worn multiple hats for the global business travel community. As a non-profit organization, we have functioned as a nexus for collaboration between buyers and suppliers and between competitors who might otherwise not have a “safe space” in which to advance shared policies and goals. GBTA also has evolved to be part event planner, part educator and network connector and also part thought leader and creator of relevant media content. Through the integration of these multiple roles, GBTA continues to serve members and sponsors as the leading advocate for business travel on any number of issues, including preventing potential liability created by COVID-19 lawsuits, expanding “safe traveler” policies in a rapidly changing environment and advocating for the industry’s share of trillions of dollars in necessary relief funding.
Before GBTA can fully focus on such mission-critical efforts, we have more work to do internally to make sure the association isn’t merely a passionate advocate, but also a model workplace for our industry.
The first step in that process came last month with our hiring of Dave Hilfman to lead GBTA during its transition. With 40 years of experience, a deft touch with people and operations, and with paramount respect for one and all, Dave will serve as the heart and soul of GBTA as we repair the association’s culture and bridge any divides that exist between staff and leadership and GBTA and its members. With Dave’s leadership and his passion for business travel, Board members share an optimism that has kept us pushing forward amid some dark days.
For all Dave’s wonderful qualifications, no single individual can repair an entire team. To help diagnose issues and “reset” GBTA, we have enlisted MCI USA, one of the non-profit association world’s premier consultancies. Bringing the experience of more than a dozen experts in association operations and management, MCI USA will help us create the GBTA our industry requires – an association with a supportive culture premised on trust, integrity and human connection.
With guidance from these experts and Dave, we are determined to leave no stone unturned in our effort to restore GBTA’s reputation and its necessary role as our industry’s strongest voice for good. As a Board, we will not rest until GBTA meets our expectations for excellence and yours.
Do we expect the days ahead to be without difficulty? That would not be realistic. But today, on the verge of what comes next for GBTA, we feel buoyed by a sense of optimism and gratitude. We feel hopeful better days are ahead. And we are thankful for the faith shown in GBTA by our industry, sponsors and members. The association has always been a collaborative affair. It can only thrive if we double down on that collaboration in the future. With your help, we are determined to make this the case for GBTA.