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shifting the conversation

Women’s history month: Shifting the conversation with Bindu Surendran

Bindu shares her inspiring journey as a female leader in the aviation and travel technology industries.

At Sabre, we are committed to embracing and celebrating our diversity. In this inclusion & engagement series, Shifting the Conversation, our people share their stories to engage in open dialog and shed light on their broad, rich and unique perspectives. In celebration of Women’s History Month, Bindu Surendran, an active member of the Women in Technology (WiT) and Women’s Career Network (WCN) inclusion groups, shares her inspiring journey as a female leader in the aviation and travel technology industries.

My career took off as a check-in agent for a small airline in India, where the commute to the airport often surpassed the actual work hours. Over time, I also noticed a limitation in growth opportunities and slow progression in career enhancement. Despite these challenges, I was determined to establish myself in the aviation industry.

Balancing work and family posed another challenge. 25 years ago, I made the difficult decision to move abroad for a career advancement opportunity, leaving my child behind in India for the first five years. During this time, I relied on the unconditional support of my parents and siblings to care for my child while I pursued a pivotal professional opportunity.

Starting a new job in a different country was a daunting experience, but I persevered. Initially, my abilities were doubted, assigned only basic tasks while my male colleagues were given more challenging work. This fueled my determination to prove myself as a woman in a male-dominated industry. I began taking on tasks that were typically assigned to male colleagues, such as managing large-scale operations for multiple airlines and working on the ramp in high temperatures. Gradually, I began to be recognized for my efforts and gained the confidence of my leaders and peers.

When my second child was just two years old, I grievously lost my husband which added another unexpected layer of complexity into my life. The unwavering support of my family and the guidance of professional mentors fueled me to navigate these challenges, achieve financial stability and renew my self-confidence.

A year before the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to return to India to spend more meaningful time with my aging parents and embrace a new professional challenge –  transitioning from the aviation sector to Sabre, a technology company that powers the travel industry. This shift allowed me to immerse myself in product prospecting and understand our offerings from a customer’s perspective. Collaborating closely with Engineering, Product and Delivery teams enhanced my understanding of how innovation can revolutionize the future of the aviation industry.

Moving back to India presented its own set of challenges. Tragedy struck when I lost both my parents to COVID-19. Despite these difficult circumstances, I found solace in the support of my friends, siblings, and colleagues, and the emphasis my organization places on employee well-being. This combined support helped me navigate these trials and emerge stronger.

Drawing from my experiences, I was inspired to be an advocate for women’s empowerment. Sabre has provided me with ample opportunities to explore this passion, such as participating in two inclusion groups and other local initiatives. Being involved in these communities at Sabre has motivated me, enabled my career advancement, improved my work performance and positively impacted the way we partner with our customers.

As I reflect on the challenges and losses I’ve faced, I feel a sense of immense pride in my achievements and gratitude for the support I’ve received along the way. My journey has been a series of learning experiences that have molded me into the person and leader I am today. Every challenge has been a stepping stone, teaching me resilience, adaptability and strength to reach new heights. My story should serve as a reminder to embrace lifelong learning, maintain a positive mindset and advocate for inclusion.

Sabre is shifting the conversation with stories from passionate and bold inclusion group members. At the heart of our inclusion & engagement efforts, our eight inclusion groups, and counting, aim to amplify the voices of our team members and create a sense of belonging for all. Together, we celebrate diversity, applaud individuality and embrace unique perspectives to empower our global team members to bring their true selves to work every day. Learn more about our inclusion & engagement mission.

about the author

Bindu Surendran is a proud member of the Women in Technology (WiT) and Women’s Career Network (WCN) inclusion groups at Sabre. Her dynamic and resilient career journey led her to be the Service Delivery Director on our Commercial & Services team.

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