Kellie McCann
Kellie McCann/Booking.com

Here at The Muse, we know that there's no better way to understand how to ace your own employer brand than by seeing some best practices in action.

Well, you're in luck—because that's exactly what our Employer Spotlight Series does. We feature all sorts of helpful advice and insights from companies that are totally crushing their employer brands, so that you can learn from their success.

This month, we chatted with Kellie McCann, Employer Brand Project Manager, Americas at Booking.com, about what it’s like to work with an international team, building a global employer brand that resonates with candidates around the world, and how the company is working to increase diversity in tech within their own organization.


Tell us a little bit about your career journey. How did you discover your current role? Does it align with your background (education or previous work experience)?

I couldn’t have predicted my career journey if I tried! I graduated in 2010, a time when even an Ivy League degree was really just a nice conversation piece—so, like many others, I found it really difficult to land my ideal role right away. After navigating quite a few jobs and internships simultaneously, I entered the world of recruitment for some of the most notable global fashion brands in the world. Cutting my teeth in such a fast-paced industry taught me a lot about prioritization and the importance of being a generalist, no matter what your exact title may be.

In developing skills across a variety of disciplines, I was quickly trusted with huge projects, such as launching global career sites and developing summer internship programs, both of which led me to my current role. As I’ve found to be true for many others with recruitment in their background, my career path hasn’t always been an obvious one and I took a lot of risks along the way. These were ultimately the moments where I have learned and grown the most, so I’m a big advocate of saying yes to new opportunities!


What is one tool or piece of advice you wish you'd known about when you first started working at Booking.com?

In order to succeed at Booking.com—or any tech company for that matter—you have to be really comfortable with change. And if you want to go above and beyond, I would even go so far as to say you need to practice being one of those individuals who can truly embrace the unknown and find the solution quickly in everyday speed bumps.

A couple of years ago, I would have classified myself as a Type A personality: very keen on control and organization, especially at work. But now I would say I’m most comfortable in the chaos. If changes aren’t happening, I’m probably nervous!

As Booking continues to grow, being able to stay agile and adaptable is even more important for our competitive advantage. Any changes that happen on a wider organization level will always be seen as they trickle down into the effects of individual projects, so maintaining a company culture that embraces change and people equipped with change management skills is key.

As Booking continues to grow, being able to stay agile and adaptable is even more important for our competitive advantage.


Booking.com has a huge international workforce with 200 offices around the world—spanning Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America, and Latin America. What is it like to work with a team that operates across 24 time zones?

Many of my teammates and key stakeholders are based in our headquarters in Amsterdam, so given that I am on the West Coast (a 9 hour time difference), the majority of my meetings require a lot of espresso!

It’s great to connect with so many different offices and partners because it ensures that we are keeping both local considerations and global mindsets in the efforts we put into our products and campaigns that reach our candidates in 220+ countries. It also allows me to learn much more about the specifics of each market. The challenges of our LATAM market, for example, are often very different from those that our NORAM colleagues experience, so highlighting these and being able to align how we can address multiple markets in a cohesive approach is key for myself and my team in Amsterdam.



You have candidates applying from all over the world. How does having such an expansive talent pool impact your overall recruitment marketing strategy and the candidate experience?

We work really closely with our recruiting teams all around the world to get an understanding of their needs and challenges in their respective regions on an ongoing basis. We also take the time to conduct a lot of market research to ensure that we are not only understanding our own employees’ and candidate’s experience but also how they compare to those of our competition and how we may need to anticipate evolving.

From there, we funnel this up to develop our overall employer brand strategies and then adapt them as needed for specific markets or particular positions. Given that our talent pool is so diverse and far-reaching, we take a lot of care when it comes to ensuring our strategy is inclusive for the local and global markets that we need to consider.


When you meet potential employees during the hiring process, what are some things that indicate they really understand your products, culture, and values?

Our candidates have often really immersed themselves in our new Careers page and, therefore, have a solid understanding of our company culture and values. We have so much information there that provides a connection to our teams and offices around the world, potential applicants are able to easily identify and assess the key aspects they're looking for in their next role—whether they're looking for a more diverse and accepting company culture and notice our B.Proud Events, or are passionate about giving back to the community and land on our Booking Cares page.

Our recruiters have said how helpful this has been to our overall hiring process because the majority of candidates we speak with now have already screened themselves in, aligning themselves with our brand and company. This saves our recruiters a significant amount of time and effort when it comes to identifying top talent in the initial hiring stages.


What role does The Muse play in amplifying your employer brand on a global scale?

Globally, our Booking.com employer brand perception is quite strong but, particularly here in the Americas, The Muse has been a key partner in helping us differentiate ourselves as an employer of choice with our candidates. In the past two years, we’ve been able to more clearly showcase our unique culture to a wider audience and give candidates a more in-depth view into some of our local Booking.com offices and our headquarters in Amsterdam, in the hopes that they can better picture themselves working with us someday in the near future—wherever that may be.

The Muse has been a key partner in helping us differentiate ourselves as an employer of choice with our candidates.


Your CEO has been vocal about diversity in the tech industry. What are some ways Booking.com is working to increase representation for women and minorities in tech within your organization?

Booking’s commitment to diversity has been a core part of the company’s culture since it was founded, and inclusivity of all genders and nationalities throughout our workforce is an amazing thing to be a part of and help advocate. But we are well aware that there is so much more work to do, both inside and outside of our organization.

  • In 2017 and 2018, we sponsored the Women in Tech Mentorship Lounges at Web Summit, Collision, and Rise, an initiative to connect and encourage more women to pursue and foster their careers in the technology industry.
  • Earlier this year, in San Francisco, we also hosted a Code-A-Thon with activist and actress Laura Dern aimed at helping young women unlock their potential in the world of technology, and furthering our own commitment to closing the gender diversity gap.

We are happy to have a truly diverse workforce at Booking, with more than half of our employees being women, and over 140 different nationalities being represented. There are many key senior roles held by women, most notably our CEO Gillian Tans, and 20% of our tech-focused roles are held by women, which we actively acknowledge is not enough and are continuing initiatives like the above to increase those numbers.

It’s very inspiring to work for a company with a female CEO, as there is proven evidence that these businesses are more profitable, innovative, and respected. I appreciate that this keeps inclusivity and creativity at all levels top of mind, as we understand that in order to continue making impactful changes for our customers, we must first see this power and perspective in our employees.

Booking’s commitment to diversity has been a core part of the company’s culture since it was founded, and inclusivity of all genders and nationalities throughout our workforce is an amazing thing to be a part of and help advocate. But we are well aware that there is so much more work to do, both inside and outside of our organization.


What are the most rewarding parts of your job?

For me, it’s being able to see the final result of the projects I’m working on—whether it's a global conference like Collision, or watching our new Careers site go from being an array of documents and proofs on my laptop to a live experience for our candidates and customers that allows them to better experience Booking.com (and, therefore, the world).

As we did our end of year wrap-up in 2018, it was also really rewarding to see that our employer brand channels and campaigns were all among—if not the—top source(s) of hire for our recruitment teams across the globe. Employer branding is such a “top of the funnel” recruitment strategy that it can be difficult to immediately show the impact that these efforts are having, so when we’re able to look back and reflect on these accomplishments with a bit of time on our side, what we can see is a really effective and impactful value-add for the organization as a whole.


What's something you do outside of work that makes you a better employee?

I believe a big key to anyone’s success is spending time doing something completely opposite of what your day job demands. In my case, as a program manager, my eyes are firmly glued to about three screens and probably 30 spreadsheets at any given time! Much of this screen-time is spent going deep into project plans, creative problem-solving, global communications, etc.

One thing that helps refuel me is being in nature, far away from screens and charts, and doing something active. I’m lucky enough to live a five-minute walk from Lake Union here in Seattle, where you can often find me either running or biking the loop around the lake, or right in the middle of it on a paddleboard or kayak!