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People have asked me over the years how I came into being an independent contractor or confused when they see me as the travel manager but find that I’m a contractor. Before 2008, I was always seeking full-time employment and being in the office five days a week was the norm. But having just had my second child, I wanted to create my own situation where I could “have it all”.

So it came to be where a small start-up needed some guidance on travel process, policies and I was able to help them. They were small so they couldn’t justify a full-time position and so the VP HR and I chatted about how to solve both issues -- helping them create a program but as a contractor. To suppliers and employees I am the travel manager, but to the payroll department, I submit hours and am paid for actual work completed. It was wonderful as I was able to create days where I could be “in office” and days when I could work from home without having to deal with any of the politics of not being in the office all the time.

Many years later, I continue to work for companies in much the same way. I am always open to the idea of being a full-time employee but then most managers or recruiters talk to me about how I set-up my consulting business. It intrigues them and they start asking more questions. It helps companies get their travel program off the ground without having to add to their FTE headcount.

Now I know that this may not work for everyone and some may prefer to be in the folds of a company, but I have found it liberating and allows me to create solutions and hyperfocus my attention on creating a custom program for each company I am privileged to work with.

I was reading an article the other day from NPR - “Stuck-At-Home Moms: The Pandemic's Devastating Toll On Women” The article struck chords that I had not processed or realized. I have long been trying to balance working and ensuring that my girls and household run as successfully as possible. But it’s true: during this pandemic I’ve had to halt all work as I shifted full-time to my girls - 15 and 13 - managing their well-being and online schooling as many people have. It’s such a shift to go from thinking business strategies on data reporting to my daughter’s advanced pre-calculus homework, and remembering polynomials with rational and irrational functions. But now that I have created a groove for us in this “new norm”, I am again seeking new clients or projects to fill “my own cup” - as I do love working in the travel industry.

These days with the pandemic, I know many companies are “shopping around” for travel managers. Job hunting can be soul crushing work but this where the confidence of knowing that what you bring to the table and the results you produce speak for themselves. As we return to work in this new normal, now is the opportunity to help companies with your skills, and not have it look the same way it alway did.

Peggy is a long term member of SVBTA and Peggy principal of peggyleeconsulting with over twenty years of experiences in travel and expense management. She has helped companies create and fine tune travel management programs that scale with their growth and needs. She is currently open to new projects or positions. She enjoys golf, cooking and spending time with her two teen daughters and her husband.

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