Meet the MD: Christian Gleave of Review Travel

Meet the MD: Christian Gleave of Review Travel

Christian Gleave's story is one of a person who starts at the bottom and works his way up. The former counter clerk became Review Travel's majority owner, and is now focused on driving growth at the well established travel management company. He tells BQ why he thinks he's made it, and about his oddly specific workplace annoyance.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

I acquired a majority share-holding in Review Travel in 2002, taking responsibility for steering the company’s overall management, growth and strategy.

Specifically, my responsibilities include performance, acquisitions, account management, finance, marketing and directing external relationships with Advantage and Focus Consortia.

What is it the company does?

Review Travel is an independent travel management company. We provide travel services to corporates covering air, rail, accommodation, car hire, visa and passports, and currency. We also provide specialist venue finding services for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitionsevents.

We provide intelligent online products, giving companies the opportunity to self-book travel, or dedicated travel consultants to assist with travel requirements. Consolidated, electronic invoicing is delivered for all travel. This is bespoke to the needs of the client, removing the burden of administrative practices.

We have three offices in Cheshire, Hertfordshire and Lancashire, serving all sectors of the international business community. This includes IT, financial services, security, legal and energy amongst many others.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I joined Peter Stuvesant Travel as a travel rep as soon as I finished school in 1986. As a child I’d watched my parents build a highly successful leisure travel business. Growing up in that environment helped me understand and appreciate the benefit of hard work, inspiring me to be entrepreneurial.

I began working for the family business in 1988, working my way up from a counter clerk. My passion was developing the business travel aspect of the business. Once this arm was established, I effectively merged my clients with Review Travel’s in 2002.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe in leading by example, with commitment and persistence sitting at the heart of being a great leader. I get involved in all aspects of the business and hope my passion for the business inspires our employees to work hard and provide a great service to clients.

Patience and confidence are also important qualities for a leader - as a company we aren’t afraid to try new things and stand out from the crowd. Review Travel recently unveiled a bold rebrand, setting ourselves apart from other TMCs and reflecting our future aspirations.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Time – there are simply not enough hours in the day and I do believe in work-life balance. I like to have an input in all aspects of the business, and it makes my job very busy. But I do like it that way, so the biggest challenge for me is switching off when I am at home or I am away with my family.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I have a young family that keeps me on my toes, so spending time with them alleviates the stress that comes with the job. They remind me why it is so important. I also find that I am more creative when I am away from the office on holiday. I always return with lots of ideas - some more popular than others - so relaxing away from the office must help alleviate stress and nurture my creative side.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A fighter pilot, but unfortunately I’m colour blind so I have been denied that as a career option.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I am fortunate to work with people that are professional, and who respect and encourage one another. Therefore, most of the typical pet hates don’t really occur in our business - we are a team.

That said, we have just had an office refurb, and I have introduced trays so staff can carry their sustenance without staining the new carpets. Are spillages a justifiable pet hate?

Where do you see the company in five years time?

Our aim is to grow organically and by acquisition. Over the last couple of years, we have established a sound financial footing to enable us to embark on an aggressive growth and acquisition strategy. We completed our first acquisition this year of hotel and venue specialist, Executive Status. In five years I would like to see the company firmly in the middle of the top 50 TMC list, with an increased client base and a reputation as the TMC of choice for SMEs.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Believe in yourself and work in an area you are passionate about. If you don’t, how can you inspire others? It is also important to face your fears head on, learn from your mistakes and persevere. Success has to be worked for and no one gets it right first time.

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