Inspiring Women in Travel (Asia) 2024 Judges
Caroline Shen is an award-winning leader in the travel and hospitality industry, currently
taking the position as the Director of Sales and Marketing at The Peninsula Bangkok in
Thailand, a luxury urban resort by the River of Kings. With nearly 20 years of
experience in the industry, Caroline has garnered a reputation as a prominent female
leader in the travel and hospitality sector, with a proven track record of driving growth,
innovation, and positive change. Caroline was also our Essence of Women – Positive
Disruptor category winner at the first Travel Daily Media – Inspiring Women in Travel
(Asia) Awards 2023.
Caroline is a British Chinese graduated with multiple awards in Hotel Management from
Switzerland, she began her career in the United States at The Ritz-Carlton Tysons
Corner and then went on to work at various leading luxury hotels in London, including
The Waldorf Hilton and The InterContinental London Park Lane. Caroline has made
Thailand her home since 2008, serving in numerous executive committee level roles at
hotels in both Bangkok and the EEC region.
Due to her passion for luxury and lifestyle travel, Caroline has had the opportunity to
visit numerous countries and cities across different continents. She enjoys exploring
hidden gems in unconventional towns across Thailand and considers New Zealand and
Japan as her favorite countries to visit. Caroline and her husband Ray treasure their
family, which includes two beautiful children, and attempt to travel as a family as often
as possible. Caroline is fluent in three languages, specifically English, Chinese, and
Cantonese, with some proficiency in the Thai language as well.
Cleofe Albiso, leads the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality chain, the Megaworld Hotels and
Resorts (MHR) with 6 brands, 12 properties, and with over 8,000 room keys including new locations in
the pipeline. As the organization’s Managing Director, she mobilizes an employee base of 2,000-strong
individuals ready to serve guests with their signature brand of Filipino service called the Sampaguita.
As a leader Albiso believes in the wholistic transformative power of culture in the workforce. In the
organization she is part of, she has authored the “Circle of Happiness” that is focused on love for oneself,
family, work, community and above all, God. To add, the organization adheres to a well-rounded
operations philosophy based on progressive sustainable practices. With MHR’s diverse portfolio and
service dynamism, MHR has been awarded with the Best Operational Hospitality Portfolio in 2022 by no
less than the Property Guru Group.
In history, Cleofe is celebrated as the first Filipino General Manager of a Marriott Brand in the Philippines
being part of the preopening team of the first Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Iloilo. With her numerous
engagements, Albiso also sits as a member of the board of the Meet You in Iloilo movement and a
chairman of the Boracay M.I.C.E Alliance, two organizations that spark collaborative activations across
Western Visayas with the objective to attract large inbound meetings, incentives, conferences,
conventions, and exhibits for Region VI.
Being an empowered woman, she advocates for equal opportunities throughout the chain brought by
consistent sharpening of the saw backed by results. Throughout her executive track record starting from
the telecommunications industry up to the present, Cleofe has been known to be a veracious learner
who embraces intellectual humility. She is also a selfless mentor and an inspirational speaker motivated
by God’s word.
Her most recent awards include being nationally recognized as the 25th Mabuhay Gold Awardee of 2022
given during the Mabuhay Awards organized by the Association of Human Resource Managers of the
Hospitality Industry in the Philippines. On top of that, she is celebrated as the first ever “Rising Star in
Travel” under the Inspiring Women in Travel Awards Woman Champion in Travel (Asia) 2023 Category for
her record-breaking influence in the community.
With over 30 years of global travel and tourism expertise, Dr. Jens Thraenhart is the Founding Partner of 24-year-old bespoke strategy consulting firm Chameleon Strategies, the 2nd Vice Chair of the World Tourism Organization’s UNWTO Affiliate Members, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. (Visit Barbados), the former Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the founder of private-sector-led tourism marketing organization Destination Mekong, and former Board Member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Previously active in China, in 2009, he co-founded acclaimed marketing agency Dragon Trail and published the China Travel Trends books and website. Jens has also held leadership positions with Destination Canada and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (now Accor). As founder of the Destination Film Forum, he is also a big proponent of the power of storytelling, having been recognized as one of the top 10 Most Influential Leaders in Travel in 2022 by Travel Vertical, ranking first in the category of Creativity and Brand Storytelling, and served on the Jury of the Cannes Lion International Film Awards. Other recognitions for his work include being one of the travel industry’s top 100 rising stars by Travel Agent Magazine in 2003, one of HSMAI’s 25 Most Extraordinary Sales and Marketing Minds in Hospitality and Travel in 2004 and 2005, one of the Top 20 Extraordinary Minds in European Travel and Hospitality in 2014, and honored as one of the Global Travel Heroes in 2021. He completed his Doctor in Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and graduated from Cornell University with a Masters in Hospitality Management. He publishes his three tourism industry blogs:
(3) PurposePicks.com. Jens is dual German-Canadian, currently residing in Bangkok, Thailand.
As Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Laura Houldsworth leads and oversees business growth,
operations and strategy for one of Booking.com’s most vibrant and diverse regions globally.
Laura joined Booking.com in June 2021, following 10 successful years at SAP Concur where
she last served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for Asia Pacific, Japan and
Greater China. Laura has previously held regional roles in BCD Travel and ABN Amro Private
Banking; and is a commercial leader with more than 15 years of experience managing
successful, multi-cultural teams.
Laura has lived and worked in Singapore for more than 15 years and holds a Bachelor’s degree
in International Marketing Management from Bournemouth University, United Kingdom.
Besides being an avid traveller and runner, she enjoys a good game of chess.
Mike is the General Manager of Thailand and Laos at Intrepid Travel, the travel industry’s largest B Corporation.
Born in the UK, Mike embarked on his professional journey in the field of manufacturing, specializing in Operational Quality, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. However, his desire to explore the world led him to Asia, where he found the perfect platform to fulfill his passion for travel.
With a track record spanning over 20 years Mike started as a group leader before going on to assume leadership roles across Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines before moving to Myanmar.
After successfully building our business in Myanmar Mike went on to develop and grow external sales before moving into the role of General Manager, Thailand and Laos.
Driven by a results-oriented mindset, placing great emphasis on delivering solutions and enhancing performance he consistently showcases his ability to identify and implement effective strategies that yield tangible results. Recognized for his proactive approach, adept problem-solving skills and consistently devising innovative solutions to optimize operational efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction.
One of Mike's key strengths is his adeptness at leading cross-functional teams, fostering a collaborative work environment that nurtures creative thinking and teamwork.
He fully understands the significance of aligning individual strengths with organizational objectives, empowering team members to reach their highest potential and excel in their roles.
Mike believes it is essential to cultivate a workplace culture that embraces diverse perspectives and experiences empowering team members to reach their highest potential and excel in their roles, actively ensuring that employees have equal opportunities to contribute and thrive within the organization creating a diversity that fuels innovation and ultimately leads to superior decision-making within the company.
Olivier is an Award-winning, data driven and problem-solver, TravelTech C-level and general management veteran with 30+ years of hands-on expertise in digital transformation management and operations, product development, distribution, data analysis, AI, guest experience, and technology integration, operating across EMEA, Asia PAC, and Greater China, B2B SaaS, software development, bootstrapping start-ups, and B2C public listed companies, such as Travelport (was then Galileo), Pegasus Solutions (now Cendyn), Derbysoft China, Hoteltravel.com (now MakeMyTrip.com), Wotif (now Expedia), Holidayme.com, and Portier Technologies.
Based out of Bangkok, he is currently working as Managing Director at Atiom, a mobile-first AI-driven behavioural tech platform for the hospitality and service verticals.
Olivier is a Board member of La French Tech Bangkok. He also held several Committee Chair seats at Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA), and at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) travel industry vertical.
Olivier is a keen scuba diver and enjoys being a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI). He is a great believer in ESG and leaving a renewable ('sustainable' not being good enough) world to his daughter, his son, and future generations. Olivier also supports several Thai charity organisations, including a member of the Management Committee of Giving Tree, an organisation dedicated to helping the Karen kids in the Northwest of Thailand.
Experienced in Education and Hospitality, Ms. Pichaya has been in hospitality career in various areas.
Despite the background in education fields, she started her career in hotel operation and flight operation
and turned her direction to hospitality education. She is now working for Dusit Thani College, supervising
in International and Industry relations. She is currently held the board member position of Travel and
Tourism Research Association – Asia Pacific Chapter since 2018.
Internationally renowned, multi-awards Chef Pam - Pichaya Soontornyanakij has opened a string of successful restaurants and bars. Listed as Forbes 30 Under 30, Pam is also the first ever and youngest Female Chef to receive both Michelin Star and “Opening of the Year” award from the Michelin Guide at the same time.
From working in 3 Michelin Stars Jean Goerge, New York to Bangkok, Pam become a critically acclaimed chef, food consultant, and television personality and is one of the most recognized faces cooking in Thailand today.
Her restaurant POTONG is also listed as World’s Best New Restaurant from Conde Nast Traveller, #35 ASIA’s 50 Best Restaurant and #88 WORLD’s 50 Best Restaurant in its first year of opening.
To learn more about Chef Pam profile & other Restaurants and Bars from below:
Sumi is a Senior Advisor for Phuket Hotels Association where she joined the Association since its inception as their Development Director and oversees the strategic direction of the association through memberships, fundraising events and organises their two key international major events each year. She was then promoted to Executive Director and now plays an advisory role.
She is a marketing and management professional with a specialisation in project and business development. After studying in Malaysia, she traveled to the USA to study for a degree in Business Administration, majoring in Management & Marketing.
She spent her formative career in Sydney, Australia for IDP Education (co-owner of IELTS), a semi-government owned; an international leader in student recruitment agency where she held roles such as Client Business Manager and Global Brand Manager before being seconded to IDP China where she took over as Senior Manager for Sales and Operations based in Beijing and Shanghai respectively.
She also owns and run a successful restaurant in Phuket called Mrs B Bar & Table, where she also offers her services as an F&B consultant.
Tanya Pirapokin joined Siam Express in 2002 starting as a junior leisure consultant. Today, I am the Executive Director of Siam Express, one of Thailand's top travel management companies.
My role includes overseeing the leadership team to ensure excellent delivery of corporate travel services to both domestic and multinational customers.
Outside my corporate role, I have maintained my involvement in social services in the area of fund-raising projects specially with the Epilepsy Foundation of Thailand, and of raising awareness of environmental sustainability.
Tom Thrussell is a British national with
over 20 years of experience in the
marketing field, having worked for
leading companies such as American
Express and Maybourne Hotel Group,
which owns and manages some of the
world’s most distinguished luxury hotels,
including Claridge’s and The Connaught.
Relocating from London to Bangkok in
2015, Tom has spent the past eight
years leading the global marketing efforts
of Centara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand’s
leading hotel group comprising 95 hotels
across six distinct brands. He oversees
all elements of the marketing mix from
branding, marketing, and e-commerce,
through to CRM, loyalty, and PR. During
his tenure Tom has developed and
launched two new brands, helping the
company expand into both the affordable
lifestyle and luxury sectors: he’s
successfully overseen several new market entries including Japan, UAE, Qatar, and
Oman, and he’s overseen double-digit growth in direct and online revenues year after
He speaks both French and Spanish as well as his native English, and his passions
are his family, travel and Tottenham Hotspur.
I believe personal first-hand discovery of our world's diversity is interesting, fun, and one of the best tools we have for its conservation. Exploring Earth's natural treasures, wealth of cultures and history, and meeting its communities in a responsible, sustainable and authentic way to inspire involved solutions to its growing problems.