Katharine W. Farrell serves as President of Dots & Lines, Inc., an independent marketing and communications consultancy that specializes in B2B technology and travel. She currently serves as an Alumni Advisor for the GBTA Ladders mentorship program and previously served as Co-chair of the GBTA Ladders Media & Communications committee. Katharine is an active member of WINiT.
What do you love about being in business travel?
This industry has such a strong sense of community, from a local to a global scale. There are a ton of resources available like speaking engagements, networking, mentoring programs and education and leadership opportunities. It’s important for women in our industry to take advantage of these resources, especially if it’s outside your comfort zone! Women make up more than 50% of the corporate travel workforce, but when you look at who is speaking and holding leadership positions in our industry, it’s clear we still have a long way to go. The only way that will improve is if women volunteer.
Who or what inspires you to continue working hard, even on the most challenging days?
I’m a new mom, so beyond feeling a bit sleep deprived and emotional these days, I think often about what kind of example I’m setting for my daughter. My desire to make her proud keeps me going on the hardest days. Our Dots & Lines team is also fantastic; they motivate me, teach me and keep me laughing every day. My husband and family help keep me grounded in what’s truly important and warning me when something is verging into “mountain out of a molehill” territory.
What advice would you give to women just starting their careers in business travel?
I recently listened to an interview with economist Dr. Cecilia Conrad. As a young, black, female faculty member in the early 1980s, she found her expertise challenged by some students. A senior faculty member gave her advice she has carried to this day: “fill the board with calculus.” In the next class, she shared the derivation of a concept she was explaining, filling the board with parabolas and equations and first derivatives. The challenging students went quiet and the issues stopped. This story stuck with me for two reasons: 1) It’s important to know your stuff, and 2) Sometimes when you’re young and a woman, you have to “fill the board with calculus” to establish your expertise. It’s critical to stay on top of our industry and be able to speak knowledgeably about it. Read industry publications and follow experts on social media. If something doesn’t click, research or ask questions until you understand. When you’re challenged, you need to be prepared with your “calculus.”