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  • 2 May 2024 12:41 PM | Anonymous

    The woman of the house is a single mother of 4. She was abused by her husband and so was living in her mother's hut with her children. She also has TB and goiter and hence is thin and frail. The daughter is brilliant at school and is in grade 11. She hopes to become a medtech one day.

  • 26 Apr 2024 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Introduction by: Peter Marshall

    “By advocating gender equality, we can create a more equitable and diverse industry for future generations”. Caroline Buisson is Senior Global Account Manager at Brown-Forman and this quote from the interview that follows will resonate deeply within  Travel Retail. The interview itself is wide ranging and covers Brown-Forman’s own employee resource group – GROW (Growing Real Opportunities for Women) – as well as the important role  that WiTR+ provides.

    Peter Marshall (PM):  Caroline, welcome to Now, you’ve been working in the spirits business in a variety of roles since 2009. I think we can agree that, historically, the spirits and liquor sector has been a very male-dominated business. With this in mind, how do you feel the positive contributions of female professionals have changed and developed over the years?

    Caroline Buisson (CB): From my point of view, the spirits industry has undergone significant transformation, with more recognition given to the positive contributions of female professionals. At Brown-Forman, I’ve witnessed a shift towards greater gender diversity, reflected in the increasing number of women in leadership roles within our Global Travel Retail team. This trend indicates a broader cultural change within the industry, fostering an environment where women are valued for their expertise and contributions.

    PM:  So what has been your personal experience here?

    CB: I’ve experienced an evolving landscape within the spirits industry, where opportunities for women are expanding. Initiatives like our partnership with Women in Travel Retail+ (WiTR+) have provided platforms for women to thrive and advance in their careers. Also, our Brown-Forman employee resource group GROW, which stands for Growing Real Opportunities for Women, contributes to this. As more companies prioritize diversity and inclusion, I’m optimistic about the continued progress and empowerment of female professionals in our industry.

    PM: Can you identify how female employees are now being more appreciated and acknowledged by their companies? And do you think the gender pay gap is narrowing?

    CB: I think the first big step has been taken with the introduction of initiatives like mentorship programs, resource groups, and networking opportunities. You can also see how important they are by the fact that male colleagues feel excluded if they are not invited. So the tide is turning. A good example of this is that the WiTR initiative has added a plus to its name to signal that everyone is welcome to contribute to the goals of the initiative, regardless of gender. I would say that the gender pay gap remains a concern, but efforts to narrow it are underway, reflecting a commitment to equitable compensation practices. Companies are recognizing the value of diversity and inclusion, not only for fostering a positive work environment but also for driving innovation and business success. Studies also prove the positive aspect of a diverse and inclusive company on innovation and success.

    PM:  So in what areas of the business is there still room for improvement? I guess board representation is a starting point.

    CB: Achieving gender balance at the highest levels of leadership is essential for fostering diverse perspectives and driving meaningful change within organizations. By prioritizing inclusivity in governance structures and leadership development programs, companies can create environments where all employees feel valued and empowered to contribute to their fullest potential.

    PM: Moving on, you’ve been in Travel Retail with Brown-Forman for almost 7 years now. Tell us more about the company’s commitment to gender equity, for example, the Brown-Forman Employee Resource Group GROW  – Growing Real Opportunities for Women. How does this initiative work and what benefits have you personally and your female colleagues gained?

    CB: Initiatives like GROW provide valuable resources and support networks for women within our organization. It is a cross-national group that meets at regular intervals and is chaired by a member of the Leadership Team. Everybody within our corporation is invited to join the group. Of course, there are fixed dates on which the group is active externally, such as most recently on International Women’s Day where the third consecutive year of the HerStory panel in celebration of Women’s History Month was presented. There was for instance a conversation highlighting a panel of women, working at Brown-Forman from around the world and the work they’ve done to champion inclusion, instill a sense of belonging, and inspire empowerment.

    While some of my female colleagues, including myself, have been members of the WiTR+ initiative for some time, Brown-Forman recently signed up for a corporate partnership with WITR+. By doing so, we’re ensuring that all our female GTR team become members of WiTR+ and have access to networking events and opportunities for professional development, furthering our commitment to supporting women’s advancement in Travel Retail.

    PM: Brown-Forman is a full corporate partner of WiTR+ and actively encourages TR employees to join and participate. What are the current corporate partner numbers and what actions is WiTR+ taking to further encourage other companies to take up corporate partnership?

    CB: Since we signed up for corporate partnership, almost 40 female members now have access to the WiTR+ services. The WiTR+ membership offers year-round events providing access to networking opportunities throughout the year, facilitating industry connections; but also webinars providing access to a diverse range of topics, including “Unconscious bias in the workplace,” “How to Succeed as a Female Executive in the Middle East“. Additionally, the WiTR+ membership offers access to a private members area, a member database, and a wealth of resources including industry-specific data and research. Finally, members benefit from a dedicated jobs board, industry communication, newsletters, and support for fundraising initiatives. WiTR+ aims to inspire more organizations to embrace gender equality and become active participants in advancing women’s representation and empowerment in the industry. WiTR+ now has 14 corporate partners and the number is growing every month. Every single member is an ambassador for these goals and we are naturally delighted to welcome every new member.

    PM:  In your recent interview on International Women’s Day (March 8th) you mentioned Brown-Forman’s sponsorship of future events during 2024. It’s May now, so what can you reveal to us?

    CB: In June we are co-sponsoring a networking event with other partners at a restaurant in Paris. We will share more details in the coming months.

    PM:  Now, WiTR+ has been running a series of webinars for members in recent months. What topics have been covered and how successful have they been?

    CB: WiTR+’s webinars cover a broad range of topics. Last month, for example, there was a webinar on the topic of unconscious bias in the workplace. And a few months before, there was another webinar about Women in the workplace from an HR Perspective with Dubai Duty Free Senior Vice President Human resources Mona Al Ali.

    These webinars have enjoyed robust participation, typically drawing an average of 70 attendees per session. The highest attendance recorded reached 110 individuals, indicating a strong level of interest and engagement among WiTR+ members. It’s worth noting that these sessions are recorded, allowing members to access them for viewing at their convenience, thus extending their reach and impact beyond the live events. This ensures that valuable insights and discussions are accessible to a broader audience within the WiTR+ community.

    PM: Of course, we are all aware of the networking and associated fundraising activities of WiTR+ at key trade shows and conferences. But outside the mainstream international events, what other events and networking take place on a regional level?

    CB: Outside mainstream international events like TFWA, WiTR+ hosts national gatherings initiated by steering committee members. For instance, in Europe, there are several events planned for 2024. These include one already hosted at Diageo headquarters in London in February 2024, featuring discussions on sustainability in retail. Events such as conferences remain prime opportunities to bring together women from various countries due to the very nature of the GTR industry. These gatherings offer opportunities for members to network, share insights, and discuss pertinent industry topics.

    PM: Fundraising also lies at the heart of the WiTR+ ethos and the group has made significant donations to many outstanding and life-changing charities over the years. Can you briefly give us an overview of the charities that have been supported and the level of fundraising achieved?

    CB: WiTR+ has been actively supporting various charity projects over the past 11 years, with each year dedicated to raising funds for a specific cause. In recent years, WiTR+ has supported impactful initiatives such as the Koma Karanth Foundation in 2023, the Hope Foundation in 2022, and ImpactHK in both 2021 and 2020. These projects aim to protect vulnerable children in Kolkata, support homeless women in Hong Kong, and build homes for impoverished families in the Philippines. This year we are raising money for the FRASI Bike to School initiative, providing bicycles for children who may otherwise walk long distances to get to school each day, sometimes in unsafe conditions.

    WiTR+’s fundraising efforts have resulted in significant contributions to these causes, demonstrating its commitment to making a positive difference in communities worldwide. It is wonderful to see that the donations raised last year more than doubled our fundraising goal. In previous years, the donations raised were also often above our target.

    PM: What then are the criteria employed when selecting a charity to merit WiTR+ support?

    CB: All projects aim to address critical issues ranging from education and healthcare to homelessness of females and social welfare.

    The criteria for selecting charities to receive WiTR+ support include possessing a valid charity registration number, proposing tangible projects with a budget not exceeding €15,000. 

    Annually, WiTR+ members nominate charities, and eligible proposals are presented for a membership vote. 

    PM:  Do you have your personal favourite of the charities WiTR+ has supported over the years, and why?

    Every project is equally important and every support for people in need makes a great difference. Speaking as a mother of two children of my own, the protection of vulnerable children is particularly close to my heart.

    PM: If the Steering Committee had a key message to communicate to the GTR industry, what would it be?

    CB: Everyone’s efforts are needed to create a fairer and more inclusive industry that benefits all stakeholders. The great advantage of the GTR sector is the global network, which integrates cultures from all over the world. Let the global travel retail world be a pioneer that inspires other sectors worldwide.

    PM: And one last question, Caroline, do you think this interview will help your career and gain further rapid promotion within Brown-Forman?

    CB: While career progression is important, my focus remains on driving positive change and fostering an inclusive culture within the wider industry. By advocating for gender equality, we can create a more equitable and diverse industry for future generations.

  • 17 May 2023 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    Julie Lassaigne

    Title: Secretary General, European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC)

    With over 15 years experience in Brussels, Julie is in her current role responsible for the daily management of ETRC as well as leading advocacy work on key challenges affecting the sector. Julie is the proud recipient of the 2022 Frontier Award for Outstanding Contribution to the travel retail industry.


    Judit Balardi  

    Title: Marketing Manager

    Judit is a seasoned Marketeer with 15 years of experience at Nestle, Philip Morris, and Hershey's. Specializing in Travel Retail in EMEA since 2017, Judit excels in Trade and Customer Marketing, focusing on POS visibility, consumer activations, and product commercialization.


    Heidi Van Roon M.B.A. CPHR SHRM

    Title: Founder / President SPARK Group of Companies

    The SPARK Group is recognized for recruitment in Travel Retail.  Heidi gives voice and leadership to mission critical insights that are anchored in the power of bespoke customer engagement.  In 2021 SPARK won the Frontier Award: “Airport Team of the Year - Americas”. 


    Ella Blake

    Title: Sales Director - Global Accounts & Americas (Europe, Oceania & Americas)

    Ella has been FMCG 14 years  with SME & blue-chip experience in the domestic market across multiple categories for 12 of those. Ella is now involved in the spirits industry as Global Sales Director for Beam Suntory with an incredibly diverse portfolio & team, and able to speak about this exciting category & complex channel.


    Mioara Nicoleta Olteanu

    Art&Craft Design SRL

    Title: Managing Partner

    Mioara Nicoleta started her business in 2005 combining three elements: design, opening stores in all Romanian airports, owning 11 brands and having a good understanding of designing and promoting destination products. Mioara Nicoleta is an expert in creating brands and products in the souvenir field.


    Barbara Wold – Barbara Wold International

    Title: Owner

    Barbara is an internationally known speaker and able to speak about retail, hospitality and tourism industries. She is an authority on building business through customer driven strategy and maximizing human assets. Barbara has taught in over twenty countries, 49 states and all U.S. territories.



  • 11 May 2023 2:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It was great to meet so many familiar but also new faces at our WiTR+ event during TFWA APEC in Singapore:

  • 14 Mar 2023 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    Women in Travel Retail celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th in collaboration with Tumi at its Regent Street store.

    The hugely successful event was attended by 73 women including Rosie Swale-Pope, a motivational speaker and author who delighted the crowd with her tales of various incredible adventures around the world.

    On hand were Tumi staff to demonstrate the art of packing, and to share insight into the Tumi repairs and personalisation departments.  Guests also had the opportunity to discover the Tumi’s new women’s collections: Voyageur and 19 Degree.

    It was a thoroughly convivial evening; guests were spoilt with Champagne and Canapes and all in attendance were entered into a raffle to win a Tumi Backpack (first prize) or a soft toy fox given by Rosie as part of her story (second prize) - Tumi also generously provided guests with goody bags on departure.

    Sarah Branquinho, Chair of WiTR said: “It was an absolute delight to see so many faces at the event and are thrilled to have gained some new members as a result of the event, and offers to host other events. Many thanks to Alex Willson and the team at Tumi for their incredible hospitality and generosity during the evening, to Rosie, and to all those who attended!”

  • 14 Sep 2022 9:27 AM | witr admin (Administrator)

    Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) has named Friends International as its 2019 charity of the year.
    Friends International was founded in the early 1990s in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It has 25 years of experience working directly with disadvantaged urban children, youth, families and communities, across Asia, Africa and Europe. The charity enables individuals who lack opportunities to become productive, independent citizens.Sunrise Siem Reap Orphanage
    WiTR will raise funds to support a Siem Reap-based Friends International project, which provides beauty salon training for 24 young women, aged 16 to 24. The training will enable them to provide for their children and siblings.

    “This grant will help many young women on the path to learning new skills, getting jobs and empowering themselves to be happy, active and productive members of Cambodian society.” – Friends International Founder and Director Sebastien Marot

  • 14 Sep 2022 9:27 AM | witr admin (Administrator)

    Sunrise Siem Reap Orphanage

    On the 2nd of October, during the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes, WiTR held a fundraising event for Hand in Hand for Haiti. Hosted in the iconic Palais des Festivals, WiTR members also enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network over a glass of prosecco. Here is a photo gallery of the event.

  • 11 May 2019 9:28 AM | witr admin (Administrator)

    Speech by Renay Farrell, Business Project Coordinator, Friends-International. Presented to WiTR members during TFWA Asia Pacific, May 2019.

    Sunrise Siem Reap Orphanage

    Firstly, I would like to thank Colleen and Gerry for the opportunity to be here this evening for the Women in Travel Retail networking event, it’s truly an honour.

    For those of you I haven’t met, my name is Renay Farrell and I have the privilege of working for Friends-International, based at our headquarters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

    On behalf of Friends-International, it gives me great pleasure to thank you all so much for kindly and generously choosing our Beauty Vocational Training and Education Support in Siem Reap as your program to support in 2019.

    As a brief introduction, Friends is an award-winning international social enterprise that has been operating since 1994. 25 years ago, our founder and executive director, Sebastien Marot, landed in Phnom Penh, an unplanned visit with his friends while traveling throughout Southeast Asia. Sebastien was overwhelmed and shocked by the sheer volume of children living on the streets. He quickly learned that these children wanted to go to school and get an education – and changed his plans to stay in Phnom Penh and focus his efforts on these children and youth to give them a better chance at life. Fast forward to the present day and we are now in 23 countries through our partner operations and have physical offices in six. Sebastien’s vision has created an organisation focused on ‘Saving Lives and Building Futures’ of the most marginalised children, youth and their families through a number of programs which provide outreach and social services, drug & alcohol rehabilitation, support groups, remedial education, the reintegration of children back to school, as well as training and jobs to their caretakers to ensure they stay in school. And these are just a few examples! Vocational training is one of our key programs to help break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of the most marginalised children and youth. And the most at risk is always female youth.

    Marginalised female youth in Cambodia continually face many barriers to access employment including lack of education and the ability to pay for training. Often living on the streets, they are forced to work in hazardous occupations such as construction, scavenging, sex work or begging – leaving them vulnerable to health risks and abuse.

    And by supporting our beauty vocational training program, you will be actively taking a part in breaking this cycle.

    Our vocation training programs – offered to youth aged between 15-24 years of age – lead to stable and quality employment.  Personally, I’ve seen the behind the scenes work of our social workers in encouraging youth to have a better chance at life. When I first joined Friends I had the opportunity to experience our Mobile Night Bus which visits various locations in Phnom Penh where sex workers operate, every night. Our Mobile Night Bus is amazing – it provides services to these sex workers including those from the LGBTQI community, such as free HIV testing, counseling and support from our social workers, and even an area in the bus where they can ‘freshen’ up with the make-up and hair products provided by our teams. On my Mobile Night Bus experience, a 22 year old female was getting advice from our social services team as she was hoping to get out of the sex industry and stop being a sex worker on the street, but she couldn’t find a way out as she had to support her brother and sick mum. On average, she would earn up to $15 a night – as little as $5 a ‘job’. Our social workers spent a long time listening to her, counseling and offering alternatives – via our vocational training programs where she could learn a trade, graduate and get our support with employment. It was reassuring to know that our social workers would continue meeting with her to support her to join our vocation training programs.

    Our beauty vocational training is one of seven programs offered by Friends, including hospitality, barber, motor mechanic, electrical, welding and sewing.

    Our beauty vocational training program runs for eight months with a curriculum which provides market-aligned quality technical skills within a classroom environment and importantly within our beauty and nail training salons. Equally important, our programs also offer psycho-social counseling, basic literacy and numeracy, Khmer and English lessons, as well as a significant focus on soft skills: personal development via confidence-building, emotion and stress management, along with collaborative working skills designed to truly empower the youth in our programs.

    In addition, the program links students to a full range of basic social services such as medical referrals to hospitals, support to obtain legal documents (as many Khmer children and youth born after the Khmer Rouge ruling do not own birth certificates for example), a meal each day, transport to and from training, as well as short-term housing if required.

    After graduating, the students then progress to our Futures Office where our employment experts help the students secure employment or assist them in starting a micro-enterprise. Friends has a growing network of hundreds of local businesses who accept graduates as interns, apprentices or full-time employees. For self-employment, Friends can sponsor the equipment and material needed for start-ups until they become self-sustainable (six to 12 months on average).

    Last year, 43 girls studied in our beauty vocational training program:

    • 30 were newly enrolled
    • 27 were placed in employment and 16 rolled over to continue their training in 2019

    We have experiences where students have graduated, are placed in full-time employment thanks to the Futures team, progress in their new roles and then return to be a vocational training teacher in our programs.

    I’d now like to share a story from one of our graduates – her name has been changed for privacy reasons, so we will refer to her as Theary:

     “My mother was a karaoke girl (entertainment worker) and I have two other sisters with different fathers. My mother placed me and my sisters into many orphanages in Phnom Penh. In the orphanage I went to school until Level 5, but when I eventually moved back in with my mother I wasn’t able to continue my education because she kept moving house. I never felt safe, so I decided to move in with my grandparents in a rural area. But I could never go to school because it was more than an hour away on foot on a quiet road. My grandmother soon got sick and passed away. I was left with only my grandpa in that old cottage, very isolated. I was always scared and insecure. I was going to move back to the orphanage, but I met an old lady who told me about Friends-International where a new chapter of my life began.  I felt relieved when I walked into the center. A few staff happily introduced themselves, and I was shown around the center before I decided to join the Beauty training. It was then that I regained all my hope to become someone better.  I was offered a safe place to stay in the group home where I get to live with 3 other girls. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity: everything is free for me, I can access all the necessary facilities and it feels like home. I have lots of new friends and they are very nice to me, and we are all from similar backgrounds.   I’m now in the second level of Beauty training, and I take other classes like Khmer literacy, English, and computers. My life has changed a lot. I never thought of getting skills or trying be anyone better, but Friends has changed my perspective on life. I enjoy my training here, getting to learn new things every day.  In the future, I believe that I will be able to use my skills to support myself with a good job. I have big dreams to get a house where I can live happily with my mother and sisters. I hope I can get everything I want and make up for what I missed when I was young.  I also have a message to other young people: study hard to get the skills you need for a good job and a better future. And I want Friends to keep helping the young people like me to achieve their goals.”

    Looking at the future for students like Theary, is where the Women In Travel Retail comes in! Your support will allow many girls in Siem Reap find employment and get  out of the slums, the drug dens, off the streets and out of the sex industry. The cycle will be broken and they will have a new chance at life!

    We have already seen the huge impact of Women in Travel Retail with introductions to various companies in your network to partner with us through program support and capacity development, or n buying our products. We would love to discuss partnership opportunities with more of you, and really believe this is the start of a fantastic relationship.

    Once again, from everyone at Friends, thank you for your kind and generous support which will allow us to continue our work in supporting marginalised youth and children. We look forward to continuing a positive and long-lasting relationship with Women in Travel Retail and to keeping in touch along the way.

    Enjoy the rest of your evening!

  • 9 Oct 2018 9:26 AM | witr admin (Administrator)

    WiTR’s creation of a platform to bring together the women working in the travel retail industry and its support for charity was recognised at the 2018 Frontier Awards in Cannes with the coveted award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.

    The award was accepted on behalf of WiTR’s Members by Chair and Vice Chair Sarah Branquinho (Dufry) and GerryMunday (Furla).

    Sunrise Siem Reap Orphanage

  • 14 Sep 2018 9:19 AM | witr admin (Administrator)

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