The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) announced that Suzanne Neufang has been named its next executive director, leading the combined GBTA and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE). Since July 2020, the interim executive director role has been held by Dave Hilfman, who will remain with the association in a temporary consulting role to smooth the transition.
Neufang was hired after a comprehensive and exhaustive review of more than 130 candidates from around the world. The months-long process was led by an independent search committee of industry leaders and staff. The search was coordinated by leading association consulting firm MCI-USA, which served as a third-party hub to screen applicants and facilitate the extensive interview process.
“The independent search committee has provided GBTA with an exceptional leader for the future of our association and industry. Suzanne is unquestionably the visionary to lead business travel to a complete recovery in the years ahead,” said GBTA President Bhart Sarin. “It will be a distinct privilege to support her as we complete our integration of GBTA and ACTE and build on the momentum of the Ready. Safe. Travel. campaign toward our annual convention in July.”
Neufang, whose diverse executive career has included senior leadership roles with several high-profile travel and technology companies, most recently served as senior VP-Americas for HRS Global Hotel Solutions. Before HRS, Neufang worked for 10 years as an executive leader with Sabre Travel Network, GetThere, and Travelocity, and later as a divisional chief marketing officer for Fortune 500 software giant Intuit. An active member of GBTA since 2005, Neufang led ACTE as Board president from 2012 to 2014 and as a Board member from 2014 to 2018. She served as ACTE’s interim executive director during summer 2012.
Neufang described the opportunity to lead GBTA as a “pinnacle career opportunity” and an important way to give back to an industry she loves, and which has offered her many opportunities. “It’s not a secret that business travel is at an historic low point as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in crises we find opportunities to be bold and to excel,” said Neufang. “Business travel has been down before and we have recovered—always coming back more technologically savvy, data-focused, and globally connected. The key questions for me are when we as an industry will recover, and how we as GBTA can drive economic and industry recovery to be even faster.
“We need to emerge from this pandemic as a healthier, more transparent association, one with the strongest possible, globally-focused foundation. As an organization, I believe we can work together to provide more value, better education and research, and even more effective advocacy for our members and sponsors. I’m very much looking forward to working with the professional staff at GBTA—and the Board, members, sponsors, and regional partners—who have had a long track record of growth and success serving the business travel community.”
Neufang will take over on February 24.
“It’s been a privilege serving the business travel industry in this interim role over the past eight months and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Hilfman, who retired from United Airlines as senior VP of worldwide sales in 2018. “To be entrusted to lead the largest business travel association in the world at a truly consequential moment in our history is a true honor. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together and the significant progress made to date. My sincere thanks to the staff, Board and members of GBTA for all their support. Stepping aside for Suzanne is easy, because she understands business travel from the buyer and supplier perspectives like few people I’ve ever met.”
Visit gbta.org for more information.