A history of inspirational women
Alyssa’s 17-year career has seen her move from Los Angeles to London. She transformed Heathrow Airport operations from 200 to 1500 cars and she then joined the European Corporate Airport Team. She subsequently gained her promotion to Group Rental Manager, just one month before giving birth to her daughter, Juniper. Find out how Alyssa takes inspiration from family and colleagues and encourages everyone to find their voice to promote and uphold equality.
What women inspire you and why?
My family has a history of inspirational women. I was named after my great aunt Emily who lived during the American Civil War. She was one of the first women in our family to graduate university, and over 100 years later I was the next. She has always inspired me. I feel accountable as her namesake.
My mum raised both my sister and me on her own while putting herself through school. She empowered us and helped us learn what we could do for ourselves by teaching us independence. I suppose that is what led me to a company like Enterprise where performance is recognised and I can continue that financial independence and success.
A woman that inspires me outside of my family is the comedian Deborah Frances-White, who hosts the The Guilty Feminist podcast. I’m a big fan of humour - it can help us take difficult messages and sometimes challenging information and get people to pay attention. I love her approach. She can bring so many different people into a space to talk about global issues and share positive examples of the remarkable things that are going on in the world. She inspires me to create those safe spaces in the workplace, ensuring an open door for everyone, whatever their gender identity, so we can talk about equality and continue the conversation.
Who has helped you along your career journey? What have you done to mentor others?
That’s a long list! I've never had a manager who didn't have my best interest in mind, and I have learned something from each of them. My first mentor was a Business Rental Sales Executive named Belinda. She had a huge influence on me as a role model and helped me feel comfortable and confident in the marketplace, and I still use what she taught me today.
Ed Spitzer, Vice President of Remarketing, Europe, was my formal mentor while I worked at EU corporate. We had regular meetings in which I could seek advice on business and the projects I was working on. The insight Ed gave me assisted with helping the European airport business perform better and directly impacted my role and progression. I owe him a lot of thanks for his time during that year.
Tori Patrick, Vice President of European Airports, has been an incredibly positive influence. She helped me build my confidence by trusting my decision-making and giving me the autonomy I needed to succeed and evolve our European airport business.
I appreciate all the mentors I have had, both formal and informal. I've always been sure to be part of our formal mentoring programmes and I always leave some extra time when I go on my visits to have a cup of coffee with those on my team who need my support.
"I've always been sure to be part of our formal mentoring programmes and I always leave some extra time when I go on my visits to have a cup of coffee with those on my team that need my support"
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far in your career? Personally?
For me it was getting over the fear of moving internationally. Taking the opportunity to move to the UK has been life-changing. That move unlocked so many opportunities in the UK and Europe for me, I have met the most incredible people.
I remember being a little bit scared after receiving the news that I had been successful in my application for Branch Manager at Heathrow Airport. I was standing in Los Angeles thinking 'what am I doing?' And then I thought, 'You know what? Just go for it, don't look back, just look forward.' I was proud that I knew that confidence was in there, deep down. We don't often get to put that confidence to the test and that intense of situation.
My greatest personal accomplishment so far is raising my daughter, Juniper. I'm really enjoying being both a mum and Group Rental Manager. I think I was quite afraid of the unknown of being a mum, but I take the approach ‘I know I'll figure it out’ and so far, so good.
"I'm really enjoying being both a mum and Group Rental Manager"
What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the workplace and how have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges I face is the feeling of being unable to control and plan every future situation. As a parent and as a Group Rental Manager, you have to be able to know that things may not always go according to plan and that you have to be able to react in situations effectively as both. Engaging with a diverse team and customer base, especially amidst a pandemic, can bring on unexpected situations. You really have to back yourself and be confident that you're making the best decisions, not perfect ones, for your team and your customers. Every day is different and you need to approach each new challenge with an open mind.
What makes you feel supported at Enterprise?
I've always had support from my management team and senior leadership. They have provided me with a high-level perspective and guidance that has helped me with my development.
Our Cultural Compass committees and networks are excellent, they provide support and encourage education and personal development. I’m looking forward to PRIDE events returning this year. I do not identify as LGBTQ+ but I am an ally to the community. I want to provide that same support to my friends, family, and co-workers that has been given to me over the years.
"...taking the opportunity to move to the UK has been life-changing...That move unlocked so many opportunities in the UK and Europe for me, I have met the most incredible people"