#IWD2018: Meet Melissa Centeno
Today is International Women’s Day, and the question being asked is this: How will you #PressForProgress? Movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and #BeBoldForChange were highlighted in 2017 and 2018, but even with the global push for gender equality we know that this change won’t happen overnight. Change takes time, but now more than ever the global movement for equal opportunity, respect, treatment and pay is growing.
SnapTravel provides hotel deals over messaging, using a hybrid half-human, half-bot approach. The human side of this equation is extremely important, and this year for #IWD2018 we are highlighting one of our team members who passionately advocates for our users as one of the leaders of our human Ninja Agent support team. I’d like to introduce you to Melissa Centeno, Customer Support Manager @ SnapTravel.
SnapTravel: What is your role on the SnapTravel team, and how has it evolved over the last year?
Melissa Centeno: I am currently the Customer Support Manager for SnapTravel, leading a team of human agents that support our users globally. I started off as an Agent, so I know exactly what the hurdles and challenges are in delivering a delightful customer experience. As a team, we’re trained to put everything we’ve got into providing the best possible options & experience for our users. I was promoted to Team Lead before taking my current role, and my leadership skills were honed without straying from being a team player.
ST: How has SnapTravel supported you in your career growth?
MC: SnapTravel has provided me with freedom and opportunity. The team lets me share my voice, and is there to support me. They give me a chance and make sure that I never feel excluded; instead, they make it a point to include me in day-to-day decision-making. SnapTravel co-founders Hussein and Henry, as well as Operations Manager Jon and the whole team, have helped me to explore my passions and find my path.
ST: What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
MC: What I’ve noticed is that, despite the abundance of women in the workplace, I still had to struggle with acceptance, equality and excelling at work early in my career. Despite these barriers, I focused on doing my job and going above & beyond for my customers and peers. I was the underdog then, given that I was new and I didn’t have much customer service experience. I made sure to not only lead by example with hard work, but to share knowledge and skills in creating a collaborative environment. This enabled team-building and learning; even if I had to adjust and accept our differences!
ST: You’re the single mother to an amazing little boy… how have you managed to find life-work harmony, and what advice do you have for other parents looking to do the same?
MC: I’ll be honest — it’s not easy! And how do I do it? Well, it’s possible when you love both aspects of your life. When you love what you’re doing and it gives you self-worth, you find ways to keep everything in order. For other moms out there like me, here is some advice:
- Set goals that are attainable — your goals now may be simple, but as you achieve, you tend to set new ones which you can then fulfill one by one. It’s like teaching your child how to walk, one step at a time.
- Let go of perfection (both in being a mom and a career woman) — your child and your career don’t need you to be perfect. Leave some space for mistakes, for they will teach you new lessons. Besides, where’s the fun in that?!
- Don’t forget to have some fun (this one is something my team at SnapTravel always reminds me to do) — whether you’re at home or at work, you still have to sprinkle a little bit (okay, maybe a lot!) of fun in what you do.
- Be mindful — focus is needed in order for you be a productive mom and a career woman.
ST: Why do you think Diversity is so important in the workplace?
MC: I believe that diversity in the workplace is a key factor in achieving any company’s goals and objectives. Bringing together different perspectives, opinions and beliefs, then uniting them to achieve a common goal. A diverse team will always have differences of thoughts and ideas & sharing of insights and talents, all with the aim of creating a better outcome.
ST: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?
MC: To all the beautiful, amazing women out there: never, ever forget that you are empowered. Set your goals, and go beyond them! You have the patience to listen, the willingness to understand, the power to care, and a heart that can share! That is what makes you the most beautiful in this universe. Happy International Women’s Day!
ST: And finally… What is your favourite part about working on the SnapTravel team? :)
MC: My favorite part about working on the SnapTravel team is being part of a group of amazing individuals, with aligned vision and goals. We set out to provide users with delightful experience and help them create beautiful travel memories. I believe that’s why we’re here: to make every moment count!