Margarita Berga, BTA 2020 “Rising Start of the Year” discusses her career to date and what motivates her to deliver the best possible customer service to her clients.

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Margarita Berga was the winner of the 2020 “Rising Star of the Year” award at the Business Travel Awards held in London in February . GroundScope are proud to sponsor this award as it is a great way to identify the future leaders in our industry and recognise and celebrate their unique contribution.

Margarita is an accomplished and successful Account Manager at Capita Travel and Events who is originally from Latvia and had to start her career from scratch when she moved to the UK 7 years ago. Together with her team, Margarita developed a smart programme which delivered significant travel savings for clients. Margarita continually seeks to improve business efficiencies in order to provide the highest levels of service for her clients

Below, Margarita discusses her career with GroundScope and what drives to deliver.  

Q: Your journey in Capita Travel and Events is very interesting. You started at the company as a receptionist and within three years you made it to strategic account manager. Could you tell us a bit more about how you managed to grow so much in a company in such a short period time?

A: After moving to the UK and spending 4 years raising my family, I found myself in a position where I had to start my career from scratch again. All my past work experience in Latvia did not count for much here. It was a bruising period and there were times when doubted if I will ever be able to do a qualified job here. When I joined Capita Travel and Events, things started to change for me. Suddenly I was in an environment where hard work really pays off, where I had the privilege of working with incredibly supportive and inspiring colleagues and given opportunities to learn and grow. I guess I was eager to make up for the “lost career time” too and took every opportunity with both hands, even if it meant to step out of my comfort zone. My path into Account Management is not accidental though. I was working in Account Management in Latvia and really enjoyed my job there and, since joining CTE, I knew that is what I would like to do eventually. 

Q: What do your clients value the most about you and your role?

A: Earning customer’s respect and appreciation of the value we create and deliver for them is the ultimate driving force for me. Travel is very emotive and complex industry, there are way more challenges than there are ready solutions. I believe putting customer’s best interests first, being accountable and transparent helps me to establish positive client – supplier relationships and earn customer’s trust in an environment where things do not necessarily always go as planned.

Q: What inspires you to develop your career in the travel industry?

A: Business travel is such a dynamic and changing industry, there is so much to learn and so many potential avenues for the future. Business travel is important, it is an enabler for new connections, new ventures, new possibilities and new discoveries. It also has a destructive side and responsibility in terms of environmental impact and employee burnout and fatigue. This is interesting time where travel industry will have to weigh up its positive role as an enabler whilst finding new ways of working and innovative solutions to mitigate its negative impact. I think the future will be about limiting unnecessary travel whilst making necessary travel simpler, more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Q: Could you tell us more about this ambitious smart programme you worked at which delivered significant travel savings for your clients?

A: CTE’s Smarter Working proposition goes beyond traditional TMCs remit. Smarter Working provides powerful and meaningful solutions enabling our customers to achieve significant savings through encouraging traveller behavioural change. With standard TMCs corporates rely on travel policies, negotiated programme management and top down communication to control travel spend. CTE’s Smarter Working goes a step further by enabling a dialogue with organisation’s traveller community. Through effective communication we can achieve behavioural change where travellers know how to plan their meetings and travel smarter and are motivated to adopt new ways of working. Our customer audience is usually Procurement to whom the appeal of Smarter Working is purely commercial, helping to tackle demand and reducing average unit cost. However, I am particularly excited to see our customers giving ever greater importance to mitigating environmental impact as well as taking responsibility of employee-traveller wellbeing. CTE’s Smarter Working is uniquely placed to support organisations in expanding role of travel management by giving them access to data and behavioural science insights and effective communication tools.

Q: What does it mean to you to be the winner of 2020 “Rising Star of the Year” ?

I am very humbled, being recognised by my peers and now by the business travel industry is a great compliment. This is also a reminder of how transformative my journey has been at Capita Travel and Events and how much I have benefited from this very supportive environment. I am grateful for the trust and opportunity and recognise that it cannot be taken for granted. And, perhaps, it’s my time to give back and support someone who needs a helping hand.

Q: What is the proudest moment of your career?

I am not necessarily looking for proud moments, I enjoy the journey and look forward. Every moment where I have been out of my comfort zone and managed to stand up to the challenge feels great.

Q: What motivates you to deliver excellent service as an Account Manager?

A: I represent how my customers see the collective value delivered by hundreds of people working in operations, technology, finance etc. It’s a big responsibility and I could not possibly allow myself to do disservice to my hard-working colleagues. And customers put great trust in my hands to represent their needs within my organisation and find solutions for their problems effectively. We are only as good as our customers think we are and a genuine appreciation of hard work by the customer feels good and fulfilling. It makes all the effort worthwhile.

Q: What have you learnt so far in your career that you wish you knew when you first started your career?

A: I wish I knew earlier that, what really matters, is a team achievement. No matter how hard working and talented is one individual, they don’t get far without a wider team pulling together and working towards a common goal. And the prerequisite for a teamwork is mutual respect, appreciation of everyone’s contribution, creating positive and friendly atmosphere, being kind and patient. I am still learning this lesson, it’s tempting to give in frustrations and blame the world, but I know that it just makes matters worse. We need to hold each other accountable, but also trust and encourage others to give their best.

Q: What advice would you give for young professionals who want to succeed in their careers?

A: Say YES to opportunity and then get used to wobble where you are outside of your comfort zone, don’t know all the answers and have to face the consequences of your own mistakes. Sounds like a gamble, but it’s not if you are seriously committed to learn and do your best.

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