Shero article: Cristina Chimenti


My Shero is Cristina Chimenti, Head of Global Travel at Sky. I really wanted to share an insight into Cristina’s career as we’ve worked together over the last 18 months during my time at HeadBox and have found her passion for her role and the industry has always shone through! Cristina has been at Sky since 2011, following 20 years in the finance industry. Cristina now manages a travel population of 34,000 people with a spend of $100m. Cristina is responsible for procurement with hotel, airlines, rail, car hire, taxi and includes Meetings & Events in her portfolio which we collaborate closely on.


Cristina has won highly notable awards throughout her career, in 2022 Cristina won the People Awards “Travel Buyer of the Year” and ITM “Rising Star Travel Manager”. In 2020, Cristina joined ITM as a Board Director and is currently running for GBTA European Region Board Director (good luck Cristina!). Cristina is also a former board member and CFO at Women in Banking and Finance, Glasgow Print Studio and a former chair of children’s arts charity Giant.


Cristina, how was it going from an industry you had been in for 15 years to one that you didn’t have much knowledge of, how were you able to navigate this change?

It was probably a bit reckless to take a job that I didn’t know a lot about but I wasn’t afraid to ask questions or for help. Suppliers have been very kind and helped take the time to explain a lot to me. I would use industry bodies to learn and read what I didn’t understand then use industry events to ask people questions on these topics. I’m not shy when it comes to speaking with others, you should think about your skills as a stack of cards which you keep adding to with skills you’ve learnt. Another person may have a different stack of skills and knowledge, but you can use that to your advantage.


Can you pinpoint a moment in that transition or within your career where you doubted yourself?

Not really to be honest, although this might make me sound big headed! I’ve done many personality tests to help me know myself and how to work with others so I know I’m very pragmatic. I’m not emotional when making decisions and from a young age I would say to myself ‘what is the worst that can happen’.


Have you always been confident to make decisions?

I’m actually quite risk averse so when it comes to making decisions, I base it on what the data is telling me so I wouldn’t do something if a lot of risk is involved. I’ve built good relationships and a support network of people I trust as a sounding board. I think some people aren’t naturally confident but if you don’t have it, it doesn’t mean you can’t have it, you can test your boundaries and knowing you have a smiling face supporting you helps too.


You’ve been on the Board for Women in Banking and Finance along with your current board role for ITM. What motivated you to take on these roles?

When my mum passed away the charity supporting her was wonderful and I wanted to do something to give back so I leveraged my finance skill set to help. It’s the same with ITM, I used their resources to enhance my knowledge and gain support when I was starting out in the industry. Now I’m on the other side and being a brain to pick from.


I know outside of work you have a keen interest in scuba diving, what made you take on this adventurous hobby?

I’ve never been afraid to holiday on my own but being an extrovert I can be apprehensive and think ‘what if I don’t talk to anyone’. My brother suggested trying scuba diving and I thought why not, so I organised a holiday to get my qualifications. It was perfect because with an activity in common it’s easier to talk to people and make buddies. Diving is very peaceful, when I’m underwater there is no noise apart from my breathing. I haven’t met any of the big sharks, only the babies, I hate lobsters (probably because I’m allergic) but Manta rays are beautiful!


As a female ‘Head of’, what’s your advice to new talent today?

My advice would be don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, be curious and leverage those around you. Pay this forward as it’s a lonely life always thinking about yourself!