Office Hours: I'm senior director of strategic accounts at Expedia. I previously led global teams at ServiceNow, Oracle, Opower, and Johnson Controls.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Sarah Montgomery, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Expedia. I am based in Singapore and am responsible for the lodging partner business in Asia Pacific. I was previously Head of Customer Outcomes at ServiceNow, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances at Oracle, Director of Sales at Opower, and Director of Strategy at Johnson Controls.

I have 20 years of experience across various industries like energy efficiency, SaaS, and travel.

Ask me anything about leadership, travel tech, cultivating partnerships, go-to-market, and more!

Thanks so much for joining us @smontgomery!Elphas – please ask @smontgomery your questions before Friday, August 20th. @smontgomery may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Sarah, thank you for taking the time to host office hours! You were able to move across various industries from energy to SaaS to travel, which is so hard to do and super impressive! What similarities or differences do you find in your roles, and how were you able to translate skills across industries? What prompted you to transition?
Ha! Admittedly my resume is atypical, but I believe we are going to see more and more resumés like mine going forward. I was inspired by Linda Gratton’s “The 100-Year Life” research that highlights the downstream impacts of increased life expectancy. Specifically, the need or desire for most of us to work longer, be more resilient and adaptable, and less confined to one industry or role. This concept really resonated with me. I’m always looking for opportunities to learn something new, so I can stretch and grow. On transferrable skills- yes there are many! Intellectual curiosity, business acumen, strategic problem solving, team management, etc. are all transferrable across industries. It can be uncomfortable joining a new company or industry, but having the opportunity to learn something new and bring a fresh and unique perspective to the business is incredibly fulfilling.It can be tough to break into other industries, but:1. honing your narrative on what you bring to the space can go a long way. For example, I was looking for leadership roles in purpose-driven, high growth tech companies. My skillset is building and scaling high performing sales teams. That transcends industries.2. build your network- most people get jobs from people they know. Spend the time to build strong networks so others know the value you can bring.
Cannot agree more on the "100-Year Life" - many of us now expect to work longer, as well as to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. Thanks a lot for the great tips on how to do that!
Thank you for doing this!How did you get the promotions in your career? Was it self-advocated, or awarded without asking? I'd love to learn more about how you made those upward movements.
Great question! Honestly, it was a mix of both, but I am a strong believer in asking for what you want, and being the master of your own destiny! I’ve always been transparent and open about where I think I can have greater impact and why- having these conversations is important because it allows you align expectations with your manager, and uncover opportunities for further development. Many women are uncomfortable having these conversations-that’s why having an internal advocate is super important. Advocates can recommend or promote you when they see opportunities in which they know you will shine.
Hi @smontgomery - curious about your experience launching partners and influencing within in APAC. How are the culture and leadership principles there different from the States? Also, how do you expand your portfolio to different regions? Thanks!
Lots of great questions here!I've been in Asia for about 15 years, and have found over time that there is a strong connection between communication, trust, and influence.Understanding how to communicate effectively across cultures is essential to building strong trust based relationships. The "Culture Map" by Erin Meyer, does a great job of highlighting some of the differences on how to modulate your communication style to be a more effective cross- cultural communicator. Many leadership principles hold true across cultures- like humility and authenticity. While Asia tends to be more hierarchical, actions always speak louder than words (or titles) :)On expanding to other regions- Asia Pacific is so diverse that the experience you gain here is applicable to most markets. Think about the individual market characteristics, and you'll find commonalities to other markets and regions around the world. For example, if you look at Indonesia and Brazil, both are BRIC countries, and have commonalities in terms of market maturity, growth, and complexity. Therefore, when you look for entry or expansion strategies you could leverage, yet adapt approaches between the two. That's a very high level approach- but hard to go deep in this forum. :) Hope that helps!!
Thank you for hosting Office Hours!Have you always lived in Singapore? Like @EvelynC, I'm also curious what work and mmanagement culture is like in Singapore, or more broadly, Asia as it compares to North America!
Hi @smontgomery great to meet you! I am curious to know what your day-to-day entails? Also any tips for managing accounts/teams globally despite language differences?
Hi Sylvia, great to meet you too! Much of my day is spent on zoom calls, like most of us these days. :) I typically start early and end late due to the need to manage across time zones. But I try to limit my night calls to twice per week, to ensure that I protect as much precious family time as possible. While much of my team speaks English proficiently, it's not their first language so there are subtle nuances of communication that can get lost.Here are some tips I've learned to manage across cultures/languages:- In person discussions are always best to develop rapport and minimise misunderstandings- Speak slowly, neutralize your accent, and get rid of colloquialisms - Don't rely of one form of communication, written and verbal communication are both key-Communicate often and ask questions to ensure that the intent of your message is understood-Be patient and give people space to process, internalize, and respond
Tanks so much for joining us this week @smontgomery! Curious given the COVID environment (despite all the vaccines there's a risk of a pandemic 2.0 with the Delta variant), where do you see the travel tech trend going in the next 2 - 3 years?
Thanks for having me join!!I wish I had a crystal ball to determine the rate of travel recovery over the next 2-3 years!There's no doubt that the way we travel has changed due to COVID. Travel simply has more friction today than in the past due to the various requirements mandated by countries, airlines, and hotels.People will continue to travel and as always with change comes opportunity. Travel requirements, like vaccination passports and PRC tests results, open the door for technology solutions that remove friction from travel, and allow for travellers to travel with less risk and greater ease. I think we will see a lot of advances in this space.
Ha right on the crystal ball! However I loved your points especially wrt to new technologies, and I can totally see this happen !