Amber Treshnell is the CEO, Americas for John Paul, a digitally-enhanced global concierge service providing brands and companies with customized loyalty solutions across the banking, luxury, automotive, travel, technology, and hospitality industries. John Paul is owned by the AccorHotels Group. Ms. Treshnell oversees 400 employees in four offices across the USA and Canada. She has significant experience in loyalty and hospitality, having formerly served as Business Development Director at Ten Lifestyle Management. Ms. Treshnell has driven transformative performance across a range of industries. In 2018, she spoke Luxury Daily’s FirstLook 2018 Conference and Fortune’s Next Gen Summit. Prior to her work in the concierge and customer loyalty space, she spent 14 years in banking, principally eight years with Bank of America in multiple roles including, as a Vice President in the Consumer Retail Bank where she led a team of 160 employees across a $2 billion market, a Vice President in the North American Card division, and a Vice President in Premier Banking, responsible for a $170 million portfolio in its Global Wealth and Investment Management Division. She has also held senior leadership positions at Redwood Credit Union and Tamalpais Bank. She started her financial services career at Washington Mutual Bank followed by American Express. Ms. Treshnell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from San Francisco State University.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I moved to the U.S. from New Zealand, where I had grown up, at the age of 10. At 14, as soon as I could obtain a work permit, I got my first “official” job and worked full-time throughout high school and college. I discovered early on that you need to work hard and create your own opportunities; in other words, to some degree you make your own luck.
When I am assessing talent, I tend to look for many of the same qualities. For example, it’s not necessarily about what school you went to, or even what type of degree you hold. Instead, I look for a hunger and competitive spirit, someone’s willingness and drive to improve and grow every day, to learn from their mistakes and to always strive to get better.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at John Paul?
I spent a good portion of my early years in the banking industry, working for large companies with structured leadership training programs. I was part of Bank of America’s leadership development program. Before that, while I was in school, I spent time working at Nordstrom and was tapped for its Future Nordstrom Leaders program.
The combination of classroom and on-the-job training in these different service-oriented industries provided me with the foundation for becoming the CEO Americas at John Paul, which provides the highest levels of service to companies in banking, luxury and more.
What have the highlights been during your tenure at John Paul?
I find working with the people at John Paul to be one of the strongest highlights of my position, and I think we’ve hit the ground running. Our global team is infinitely experienced in the industry and brings deep knowledge and enthusiasm about their regions and how best to serve our customers.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
To be successful in the concierge business, you truly need a diverse background — not only in different industries, but functions. I look to hire strong people who can show deep understanding across industries where our clients reside, whether that be banking, luxury, automotive, technology or hospitality, and have held positions that vary by function including working at a restaurant, a retail store or at the front desk of a hotel. It’s important to bring first-hand customer experience and to love what you do. To be successful in this industry, you need to have a passion for serving (serving our customers, our clients, our peers, our suppliers).
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
A former manager once told me, “do what you think is right, and then go one step further and do even more.”
I’ve used this advice as a guiding principal in how I work with both customers and employees. Through my career, I’ve learned that while you can replace a lot of things, you can’t replace people. It’s more than simply retaining customers or employees from a business standpoint. It’s about how John Paul as a company treats its employees, and in-turn, how we as a company pass on this principal to our concierge clients through exceptional service.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have found that to maintain balance between your work and personal life, you have to be disciplined and make time for yourself. No one else will do it for you. But the notion of distinct separation isn’t realistic anymore. Our coworkers sometimes become our friends, and even our family or loved ones. For me, keeping a calendar that includes both work and personal commitments in one place is important. If I make plans with family or need personal time, I block those hours in my calendar and make sticking to the schedule a priority. Sometimes you need to get creative, by coordinating business travel with your family or friends, or by using video chat to say goodnight to your family every night even if you’re not at home.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The fact that there’s a pay gap between men and women in the workplace illustrates an opportunity for all of us as women and as managers. As women, we must advocate for ourselves and not be afraid to push for what we are worth, not to mention support each other in this endeavor. Part of it needs to be driven by us taking the initiative to tackle this challenge, negotiating our salaries, highlighting our achievements and supporting one another. No one at a high level in their career got to a high level on their own. It’s about advocacy for others, advocacy for those on your team and finding mentors that will be advocates for you. My advice to other women concerned about being paid fairly is to do your research, and never sell yourself short.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
What’s been most impactful for me is having a strong network of knowledgeable people I can reach out to for different reasons and at different times. Throughout my career, I’ve built a broad sounding board of professionals who are resources for me when I run into certain challenges, need advice or want to bounce different types of ideas off someone. It’s helped me make confident decisions backed by knowledge and expertise I may not have on my own.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
One of the biggest female influences on my career was Raquel “Raqui” Gonzalez, who at the time was a Regional Executive at Bank of America. She started out as a teller at Bank of America, and has been promoted through regional and national executive roles to Market President. I worked for Raquel during the Occupy Wall Street movement and the great recession.
Throughout this period Raquel provided me with inspiration, and through tough constructive feedback, challenged me to always strive for greatness. She had incredibly high expectations and constantly pushed me to be my best. She taught me to never settle, that my team should never settle and that there is always room to improve and grow. She would say things like, “you need to be relentless about the customer!” I have carried her enthusiasm and style of leadership forward to all of my subsequent positions.
Raquel is an amazing example of how women are shattering glass ceilings, achieving status, conquering challenges and, to top it off, she also was single-handedly raising a child at the same time.
What do you want John Paul to accomplish in the next year?
My goal is to expand our market leadership in the U.S., and to continue to lead the industry by defining and delivering best in class loyalty solutions. Through this, I am excited to have the opportunity to create jobs, both within and outside of John Paul, and to bring our existing team members greater opportunities to lead this growth.
As industry innovators, it’s an exciting time for John Paul. We are planning to introduce new, cutting-edge technology and digital platforms in the coming year that will ultimately change the landscape of how people interact with concierges. This is the new era of “brand hospitality” and is a clear business opportunity that John Paul is helping to solve for. Stay tuned!