< PrevNext > Cara Whitehill Traxo chief commercial officer Share Whitehill has reservations about lists highlighting women—”You never see a 2018 Men to Watch article”—but she realizes women are underrepresented, especially in travel technology, and so she answered questions from BTN associate editor JoAnn DeLuna.You have a journalism degree and wanted to be a sports writer. How did you wind up in tech?It was definitely not a straight line. I wasn’t exposed to people in technology and I didn’t know much about computer science, but after undergrad, I worked for a management consulting firm, looking for ways technology could be commercialized to help a particular business achieve its longer-term profitability goal. So I came [into tech] more from the business side.How did other travel companies lead you to Traxo?I worked for American Airlines as an analyst in the revenue management department. Much of what I did there was look at demand forecasting systems and pricing strategy, which was built on top of various technology platforms. I really enjoyed it but was more interested in using that to figure out the problem and then solving it. At the end of the day it boiled down to data. That’s really my passion, which led me to learn how to capture and analyze data and what to do with it. From there I took roles at Travelocity, then Expedia. My first formal role in the corporate travel space was with Rearden Commerce [now Deem], helping to consumerize their corporate travel platform.You had worked with Traxo founder and CEO Andres Fabris at Travelocity. But what else drew you?The technology Traxo had developed to aggregate data for itinerary management. At Deem, I learned that many of the problems in the corporate space could be solved with data aggregation and compiling a broader data set than what’s typically available from the closed ecosystem of a TMC or corporate booking tool.What are you working on now?Sales efforts directly to corporate clients with the new Traxo Connect product, our technology licensing business, and the business development marketing side. We hear from so many corporate travel managers and corporate clients that access to data is a big challenge—and access to quality data is a bigger challenge. They may get a bunch of data from different data points, but then what do you do with it? How do you normalize it and make sense of it? We’re constantly expanding the scope of the data aggregation platform and the kinds of data points we capture and are focusing on how to make sense of that. My role is figuring out what problems clients have that our technology can solve in different ways.How has it been as one of the few women in travel technology?It’s been an interesting learning experience. Generally there are lots of women in the travel industry, and there are probably more women than people realize in the little corner of technology. There have just been fewer women in leadership roles. That will change as folks migrate up, get promoted and more women start their own tech companies.You put together a list of women in technology because few were on conference panels and lists like BTN’s 25 Most Influential. Why were you compelled to do that?I thought, “There must be more innovative women in this space.” So I started making a list of sharp and smart women I’ve interacted with and thought, “Let’s surface it, circulate it and have it handy for folks putting on panels, conferences or looking to interview subject matter experts.” Most people default to company founders or CEOs, which tend to be men. There are a lot of women in executive or senior leadership roles, and it’s just a question of digging a bit deeper.What advice would you give to women who want to climb the corporate ladder?A guy will absolutely raise his hand for a job or project that he really doesn’t have the background or experience in, and say, “This is interesting. I’ll figure it out.” Women tend to be, “Well I’m not ready for it yet. I need to do this, that and the other first.” I hate saying that, as it reinforces gender stereotypes, but I have seen it. Just jump in, raise a hand and take the opportunity.