Sarah Hanan on overseeing Dohop’s commercial initiatives and the importance of perseverance
The commercial director of Dohop is Sarah Hanan, who enjoys traveling a lot—appropriate for a business that deals with travel technology. In celebration of her first anniversary at Dohop, we spoke with her during her last visit to the company’s headquarters in Iceland and asked her a few questions.
Tell us about your career journey – where did it start? Which layovers have you made over the years?
My career began after graduating University and travelling the world, when I joined STA Travel as a Travel Consultant based in their flagship store on Euston Road in London. I loved that job – I was able to talk about travel all day and send customers on their dream trips. We worked under a lot of pressure, but with fantastic leadership and teamwork, we achieved brilliant results. I learned many lessons from that time that I still use today.
After some further travel and working abroad, I settled back in London and became excited about the technological innovations happening in the industry. I joined a company called Cheapflights which was at that time the pioneer in flight comparison. My 13 years there were filled with international growth, acquisitions, and new product development, ultimately leading to a successful sale to Booking Holdings in 2016. The most cherished memory of my time at Cheapflights is the collaborative culture that we created, we maybe didn’t realise it at the time, but it was very unique and pivotal to our success.
With itchy feet once again, I moved to Berlin in 2018 to join GoEuro (now Omio) as the Director of Partnerships, driving B2B distribution for their unrivaled breadth of global ground transportation. During my time here, I not only learned about the wonderful world of rail & bus, I also experienced the excitement and innovative thinking that can be created by working with a truly international group of colleagues.
What ultimately led you to Dohop?
I had crossed paths a few times with Dohop during my career and was always impressed by their approach & ambition. I knew that they were making progress with their suite of products to simplify transport connectivity and when I saw they were looking for a commercial lead, I wanted to get involved.
It’s been one year since you joined – what’s something you learned this year?
Apart from a whole new collection of aviation related 3 letter acronyms, I have learned more than ever about the importance of communication. Working remotely with a new team, many of whom have not been able to meet in 2 years, has shown me how critical it is to keep channels of communication open and be adaptable to when and how they want to talk.
Additionally, I have been reminded of the importance of persistence and patience during the sales process. Airlines can be complex organisations with many dependencies, and one of the reasons they choose Dohop is because we can demonstrate that we can be flexible with requirements and timelines to ensure we deliver a true partnership for the long term.
Tell us something unexpected about working at Dohop!
That I’m utterly hopeless at pronouncing Icelandic names!
With several years of experience in management, how do you think your management style has changed over the years?
I think experience and working for some truly inspirational leaders over the years helps to provide you with the ability and tools to adapt your approach to suit the individual or team you are managing. To succeed and innovate, I think building a truly diverse team, including a range of nationalities, genders, and skill sets is essential. Although understanding what makes people tick can be challenging and takes time, it’s hugely rewarding when you start to see results.
What has been the most difficult challenge at Dohop for you so far?
The aviation industry is very big, but also very small! In some ways, I have had to start from scratch and work hard to establish myself in a sector that can often be very close-knit. This will always remain a work in progress, but after a very busy 12 months of industry events & networking, I am making some headway.
What is your favorite achievement at Dohop so far?
Well….we have some VERY exciting new airline partners launching soon that I cannot talk about yet. So instead, I will say that bringing 25 airlines to Iceland for our hugely successful inaugural Partner Event was a very proud moment for everyone on the team.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Travel…..the list gets longer and time gets shorter!
Dohop is a dog-friendly office, and somehow the list of Dohop dogs keeps getting longer. What are your dogs’ names?
Ken & Ada, normal dog names, right?!
What’s something you can’t live without?
PG Tips tea bags come everywhere with me.
You recently starred in a film – tell us about that!
Yes, I was in a Netflix movie called Munich: The Edge of War. I had a very important part in an airport scene (appropriately) that lasted for about 0.02 seconds.
You regularly travel to Iceland to come to Dohop HQ – what’s your favourite thing about Iceland / Reykjavik?
It may sound cliché, but it is the people. Check out the Icelandverse if you don’t believe me.