American Express GBT Picks New CEO to Lead Tech Growth

Isaac Carey, Skift
American Express GBT Picks New CEO to Lead Tech Growth

American Express Global Business Travel announced Paul Abbott as the company’s new CEO, a sign that it plans to focus more aggressively on tech development.

Abbott, who currently serves as chief commercial officer of global account services for American Express, will replace CEO Doug Anderson on October 1. Over the past two years, Abbott has led the growth of American Express’ business-to-business payment system, introducing new online and mobile products.

In its announcement, American Express Global Business Travel states that it is ready for a new phase of organic growth and acquisitions, which will be fueled by investment in digital technology.

Paul Abbott

“It is a privilege to lead a talented team committed to delivering exceptional service and investing significantly in growth and technology-led innovation,” said Abbott. “I look forward to engaging with colleagues, customers, and suppliers as we collaborate to advance the business travel experience together.”

Prior to his role at American Express, Abbott spent nearly a decade at British Airways.

“At American Express, Paul has led the rapid expansion of the B2B payments business around the world and introduced innovative new products and services for businesses of all sizes. This track record, combined with his experience in travel and background on the GBT board, make him the ideal person to lead GBT going forward,” said Greg O’Hara, executive chairman of the board at American Express Global Business Travel. “Equally as important, Paul has a well-deserved reputation for developing diverse, high performing teams that embrace change, deliver strong results and have an intense focus on building enduring relationships with customers. We are thrilled to welcome him to GBT as CEO.”

Current CEO Doug Anderson, who Abbott will be replacing, is stepping down after three years in the role. In February, Anderson led the company through its purchase of UK-based travel management company Hogg Robinson Group, one of its most expensive, and significant acquisitions to date. Hogg Robinson Group was a major competitor to American Express Global Business Travel, and the acquisition helped establish the company as the worldwide industry leader.

Anderson also headed the integration of business travel technology firm KDS, which American Express Global Business Travel acquired in 2016. The acquisition kickstarted a period of what the company calls a digital transformation, as it works to develop its own booking tools across a variety of different channels.

After successfully digesting two major purchases, the company now is in a position to increase its investment in technology solutions. Over the past few years, corporate travel startups have grown rapidly, winning over customers from behemoths like American Express GBT and BCD Travel through tech innovation, providing travelers with a more modern interface and increased flexibility. Beyond increasing global scale, legacy travel management companies are working to keep pace with changing consumer expectations.

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