Associate Profiles

robertAs Principal and Managing Director of Blackstone Gates, Robert is an internationally experienced, results oriented business leader. He has a proven track record in all areas of commercial management, developed through senior roles with global organizations such as GE, Westinghouse, AT&T, Northrop Grumman, SITA, BT Global Services and Amadeus. He has served on the Board of Directors for CDLC, Fittings (Foundry) Inc. and Symbols Interactive Media. Robert graduated with a BSc (Hons.) from Montreal’s Concordia University. He also serves on advisory boards of new business ventures, often in a role of interim exec, coach or mentor. He has over 25 years of management experience and in-depth knowledge of the Travel and Transportation Industry, during which he focused on business transformation and customer-centered strategies. Projects ranged from revenue generation, customer experience management and loyalty to ancillary airline services and airport retail. He is a respected thought leader and a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the industry’s future direction and contributes to blogs on industry issues. Robert has developed trusted relationships with senior management in customer organizations. Having lived and worked in the Americas and Europe, he has developed a broad understanding of diverse cultures and the unique characteristics of conducting business in today’s global market. Development of the next generation leaders is a particular focus, the ambition being to identify, attract and develop key talent, with a view to enable them to become the leaders of the future.

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Donb+wDon Hiser has over 20 years of experience in the global travel and hospitality technology industry, and is an expert in travel industry IT and Business Process outsourcing, leading major initial industry projects for strategic outsourcing of telecommunications, technology distribution, IT development, and professional services.  Don has held key director roles with organizations such as American Airlines, Sabre, SITA, and Oracle, providing business development, new product introduction and consulting to major airlines such as American, United/Continental, Delta, Southwest, TACA/Avianca, Singapore, and Alitalia, along with major GDS’s such as Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo/Worldspan and Abacus, and other travel support companies in North/Latin America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific. As CMO for a start-up company providing travel mobile infrastructure development, he has provided support to the airline industry’s non-profit organization for the promotion of XML as the optimal electronic messaging structure and has helped develop forecasting tools for a recognized leader in airport and aviation forecasting. Don holds a BS/BA in Management Science/Logistics and an MBA with focus on finance from the University of Tulsa and has spoken at industry conferences and workshops on travel industry subjects such as “Mobile Infrastructure Integration and the Airline”, “Medical Tourism and the Travel Agency, and “The Future of Outsourcing in the Global Travel Industry”.

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Paulineb+wPauline Hoogervorst is a Dutch management professional with more than 30 years’ experience in aviation, her specialty being Customer Service and Customer Management. She is well versed in airline daily operations, as well holding senior management roles with airlines such as; Singapore Airlines, Air Florida, TWA and Transavia (subsidiary of KLM-Air France). With Transavia for over 20 years, she filled a variety of commercial and operational management positions. She is a professional in Project and Change Management and has managed many turnaround and implementation projects as a result of strategic changes in an airline (from traditional charter airline to a charter & scheduled airline, and later the turnaround to the low cost carrier business model, operating both scheduled and charter services). Customer Management has been a main focus during her career and she experienced from both the Operational and Commercial perspectives. This also gave her the opportunity to understand the gap between the “Marketing Promise” and the “Customer Experience”. Her motivation and drive is to support clients making the change in their organizations to become customer-centric with a service delivery that fits their brand promise.

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Bobb+wRobert Smallback is CEO of RCSC-Group, Inc., an international consultant group located in Florida specializing in application systems integration and security. He is the former Director of Technology at Regional Southwest Florida Airport in Fort Myers, Florida. Over the past 35 years, Bob has held critical roles in developing systems to meet real world challenges. He has over 18 years’ experience in airport information technology, security and telecommunications systems. With his latest project, he was lead systems integration analyst for Saudi Arabia’s 27 airports, as part of their airports modernization program. The project involved perimeter, terminal and screening security, data networks, telecommunications and application systems. He continues to provide his consultancy services to clients with projects such as identifying technology business opportunities in new markets. He has worked with airline IT staffs such as, American, Delta, Continental, Sprint, Air Canada, US Airways, United and Jet Blue. His airport assignments include Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Los Angeles; Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, Abha, Jizan, Ta’if and several UK and European airports. Bob graduated from Troy State University in Alabama with a BSc degree, business administration and computer science. Bob served 3 years as AAAE Chairman of the New Technology Committee. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the subject of IT integration, business applications, and security. He was a contributor to the TSA Airport Security Guidelines initial printing and new revision. He has published articles associated with aviation challenges offering common sense solutions in such publications as Passenger Terminal World.

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David2David Orton has over 20 years’ experience in the travel and transportation industry, where he has been actively engaged in marketing and business development activities as well as providing consulting services to a number of European airports. Also, he has assisted technology organizations seeking to develop capabilities in the airport space. He has played an instrumental role in leading the development and launch of a number of highly successful services and platforms adopted and widely deployed by airlines, airports and related organizations, encompassing passenger and baggage processing, airport operations and IT infrastructure service management.  David’s earlier career was spent in product management roles with Nokia and Nortel, where he specialized in managed telecoms services for enterprise and public sector customers.  David holds a BSC (Hons.) from the University of Nottingham in the UK.

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craignewb+wCraig Stark is Managing Director of Change Impetus Group Inc. a mid-market consultancy offering Lean Start up Consulting and Services. Craig’s extensive experience in business development includes direct sales, channel partner and distribution sales, partner marketing and M+A experience. His latest roles as business development manager were with start-ups such as eCommerce Inc. and sales/territory manager for large corporations such as Banyan Systems, Microsoft, 3Com and Bell Canada. He has worked in the high technology marketplace with experience in manufacturing, distribution, insurance, accounting, telecommunications and media sectors. Craig is a Certified Engineering Technologist in Electronics Engineering and has many years of professional development with certifications in sales, marketing and business from the University of Ottawa, Canada. Craig is a hands on web 2.0 developer and has experience with all web 2.0 and social media platforms including Location Based Marketing Services. Craig Stark is also co-Founder and Managing Partner of AirGate Solutions (Twitter: @airgatesolution) and is responsible for developing and deploying client strategic and architectural blueprints pertaining to customer engagement strategy and the deployment of web 2.0 platforms and technologies.

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peterPeter G. Wray is the founding Director and Chairman of loyaltymatters.com. He has extensive experience in the design, development, project management, launch and profitable operation of global Customer Loyalty and Insight Management Programs. He is regarded as a global expert on best practice customer loyalty marketing initiatives having worked for, or with, many of the world’s leading exponents. Peter’s senior executive assignments are global gaining extensive international experience in the strategic development and operational implementation in the area of customer loyalty programs.  He launched the first plastic card based customer loyalty program in the UK market (Premier Points) and has worked with many leading large scale European Loyalty Schemes. Major client projects have been undertaken across Aviation, Grocery/General Retailing, Financial Services/Banking, Leisure Retailing, downstream Oil Retailing, Sports Marketing, Environmental and Charitable organizations. He was the initial strategic consultant to the Loyalty Partner ‘payback’ programme in Germany that is now the largest independent coalition loyalty program globally, he has worked with Boots Advantage Card, Tesco Clubcard and Argos Business Solutions in the highly developed UK market for loyalty programs, he has also provided loyalty marketing consulting to Jumeirah International hotel group (operators of the 7* Burj al Arab in Dubai). Recent commissions have involved the Premium club scheme in Poland, the Malina coalition scheme in Russia and a feasibility study for a large mobile operator in India. Peter is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the subject of loyalty and relationship marketing and a regular contributor to specialist media on the subject of customer loyalty.

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Debb+wDeb McDonald has over 30 years’ experience in the aviation industry, where she has been actively engaged in delivery of aviation technologies and platforms, as well as providing consulting services to a growing number of international airports. Deb has been involved in many aspect of technology delivery, from application development and delivery at Canadian Airlines, to Stakeholder Management for Terminal 2 at Heathrow. Her significant aviation industry marketing, product and technical expertise, has enabled her to establish with senior management supplier and vendor relationships. Deb has a keen understanding of how technology can best support the business and quickly develops rapport and trust with stakeholder to ensure successful technology delivery. She has extensive experience in the industry, having worked for both airlines, such as British Airways, and airports, such as, Toronto International Airport, Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 and Vancouver Airport. Deb’s current focus is on client projects that involve her specialty, Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT). She holds both Canadian and British passports. She holds a Diploma of Business Administration and Technology Management from Durham College, Canada.

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CraigMilb+wCraig Milner has over 20 years in the Airline industry. His airline experience is primarily with Air Canada based in Toronto, and Star Alliance GmbH based in Frankfurt. This experience enabled him to be engaged in a variety of projects dealing with airline/airport services, enabling him to become extremely familiar with, and an expert in the multi-faceted aspects of passenger-facing airport efficiencies. Craig has been an effective and successful chair of many industry meetings, such as IATA. His wealth of aviation industry knowledge allows him to manage meetings of various representatives from airlines, airports and industry suppliers, all with their diverse viewpoints. Very few are as capable as Craig when it comes to managing a group of people and leading that group towards a common solution and/or goal. His expertise has been instrumental in developing industry standards. These standards have expanded technologies used by passengers today at the airports throughout the world. Craig holds a Hotel and Restaurant Management diploma from Humber College, Toronto, Canada.

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Ronb+wRon Verweij is a Service Designer and Mobile Entrepreneur, based in Amsterdam. He is a design driven innovator with 20 years’ experience in the development of new services, experiences and products. With a holistic customer centric outside-in approach, he builds bridges between deep customer insights, innovation and strategy. His projects include retail, mobile and aviation. As Mobile Entrepreneur, Ron co-founded a Mobile Boarding Card technology start-up and two other Mobile Service and Technology start-ups. Targeted on the mobile channel, Ron developed mobile concepts based on Customer Journey insights. Ron is winner of the international highly acclaimed Red Dot-en iF Design Awards in 2009 and the Ericsson Mobile Application Award in 2004. He is often a speaker at conferences and workshops on the subject of customer service design.