< PrevNext > Sandra McLeod Travelport advisor & global VP Share Almost a decade into her career as a travel agent in the U.K., McLeod shifted into travel technology. She hasn’t looked back. In January 2016, after working at Travelport for more than 25 years, McLeod moved to Melbourne to oversee Travelport Locomote, first as CEO of the stand-alone company and now as advisor and global VP. She spoke with BTN editor Julie Sickel.Is there a particular technology you’re really excited about?Melbourne is one of those great startup cities, a little bit like what Silicon Valley was in the ‘70s, and young people actually come and knock on my door. Some of the guys I work with are in an entrepreneurial community, and we see young people come in and ask for time on a regular basis, pitching us so many great ideas. Some of the ideas others are already doing and the new ideas are just another slant. If somebody could absolutely resolve the data situation—how do I actually source relevant data for my traveler’s end-to-end trip from one source rather than multiple sources, that would be the magic bullet.You mentioned young people Seeking You Out. Have you had any mentors or key role models during your career?My grandpa was one of my first mentors. Growing up in the 1960s, when you were a girl, it was quite difficult to keep up with the boys, even in education and especially where I came from in Glasgow in Scotland. A male relative or brother got the chance to go to university. If you were the girl, you didn’t because there wasn’t enough money to go around. But I had a grandpa who told me entering my teens that I should absolutely reach for the stars and that nothing was impossible. I’ve always sought out a mentor because it’s really important to learn from someone with experience. Usually, it’s good to have a mentor that you admire and that you like, but sometimes, it’s actually very, very enabling to have a mentor who [doesn’t] have the same values as you. You can learn from that. I had one mentor like that who became a lifelong friend.Have you turned that around to mentor others in the industry?I do it quietly. I guess I’m blessed. It’s not something I’ve sought out, but rather young people in my environment have actually sought me out. It’s flattering, but if I can help young people—not necessarily to not make mistakes because mentorship isn’t about telling people, “I’ve done that and that’s the wrong way to do it”—if I can give people confidence to take risks, to be bold but not to be reckless.Some women find approaching a potential mentor somewhat intimidating. Any tips?It should be someone you admire. When you’re younger, you would never think that somebody, let’s say on the senior leadership team, would have time to mentor someone way down the scale, but it’s generally those people who absolutely will give their time so don’t be afraid to ask. Just do it in a positive and private way.It sounds like you’ve seen a change in the professional environment for women during your career?Absolutely. And the generation that is coming through now of early 30-year-olds—they have a different attitude toward life which I’m just absolutely in awe of, especially the young women coming through in technology. I was going to say that they believe they’re as good as their male peers, but it doesn’t even cross their minds to think that way. They think everyone is equal and everyone can succeed and it really doesn’t matter what your gender is.What advice would you give your younger self early in your career?Take risks. I was too afraid to make mistakes. Now I know better: You only learn through mistakes. And don’t stress about the small stuff. I used to stress about my place in the workplace, being perfect, not disappointing people, etc. You can’t worry about the things you can’t change because there’s a lot of stuff, especially in corporate life, that you can’t control. That is a guiding principle. Another one is that you should take what you do for a living very seriously, but never take yourself seriously.