Welcome to our third installment of Meet the Crew, where we highlight some of the incredible people who work here at Blacklane. Today, we’re celebrating market manager Ralph Baz.
Ralph’s passion for travel is what led him to reach out to a Blacklane key account manager four years ago.
He’d been following the company for a while and was interested in how the mobility sector was evolving within the travel industry. What started as an inquisitive email all those years ago has now turned into a fulfilling role as senior market manager at Blacklane.
We sat down with Ralph to find out how his passions have helped build his career at Blacklane.
Can you tell us a little about the work you do at Blacklane?
We look after our chauffeur partners… and everything that touches them. So, their onboarding with Blacklane, their growth within Blacklane, and their continued progress.
Our department handles Blacklane’s largest cost element – the supply cost – so that means we always want a balance between ensuring we’re able to remain profitable and ensuring we’re able to continue paying our chauffeurs a fair amount.
We currently have a team of seven in the EMEA, me included, and we all have different responsibilities. Each person manages a geographical area across the region. In that geographical area, we have the responsibility of maintaining and developing relationships with all our partners.
We also look at quality, which is one of the most differentiating factors for Blacklane. We try to handpick chauffeurs that have the same mindset and values as we do. There is no sustainability if there is no high quality. So, for the chauffeur partners who require training, we also provide different training materials, hold seminars, and conferences to get them accustomed to the Blacklane standards.
Moreover, when it comes to managing the partner account in general — our plans for the future, pricing, volume, events — we are the bridge between Blacklane internally and our partners.
How has Blacklane helped with your own personal career development?
When I joined Blacklane, I joined as an affiliate manager. I learned a lot on the job and there were some things that I felt I was naturally good at… such as building meaningful relationships with different stakeholders. I actually found that I loved it — there is just so much you can do once you have this connection with someone.
When I joined, I spent the majority of the day talking with our partners and also analyzing the business district, the profitability, and areas of improvement. After we successfully delivered the Emirates Airlines Complimentary Chauffeur Drive Service (CDS) partnership in Italy… I got promoted to a senior role, which meant different responsibilities and bigger accounts. The CDS is a service for first and business-class passengers who travel with Emirates Airlines.
While my role changed, there was one constant in our successes – it was the relationship we we had built with our partners. It wouldn’t have been successful otherwise.
As a senior, I have different stakeholders to present to and I’ve gotten some feedback along the way that has shaped the way I am personally and the things I value in life.
I’m still learning along the way and I collect feedback as much as possible from everyone. The decisions I make today as a people manager are mostly based on making sure everyone is safe and comfortable.
What has been your biggest success at Blacklane?
Launching our first Emirates Airlines Complimentary Chauffeur Drive Service market in Milan. Milan was always an important city for us, but it wasn’t the busiest city. When we were told we’d won the Emirates CDS, we were told mid-August for a launch date on the first of September. There was a period of two weeks where we had to find hundreds of vehicles that needed to meet certain specifications.
Moreover, we had Milan fashion week and Formula 1 also happening at the same time. Two huge events where we had no supply in the market. Moreover, it was August and in Italy, that means it is closed, and everyone is on holiday. I don’t know how we did it, but it was three weeks of my life that I will probably never forget.
We launched on the first of September. It was an ultra-emotional day, we had a few hundred rides. A fleet of cars appeared, chauffeurs came down in their black suits. It was pretty emotional. I think that was a proud moment because it was really a teaching moment, where something that seems impossible suddenly becomes possible. After that, it has been one successful launch after another. It worked out well and it led to other great things and I’m glad I was a part of it.
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
There are operational issues every day. I’m excited to solve these issues for people in the team as well as for our partners. Some of these problems are so creative you wouldn’t have thought the problem could have existed. And sometimes, something so small can create an issue for all operations. I really like solving issues. It makes you better at being able to handle problems in your own life. My job has made me a better person and better at handling stress.
What would you like prospective candidates to know about Blacklane?
I decided to work at Blacklane because I had a positive connection with someone who worked at Blacklane. I would encourage anyone who’s thinking of joining, to join, to make the leap, to not overthink it too much. If it’s a new industry you’re getting into, don’t worry because people here help, support, and teach you. The most important thing about work, in my opinion, is feeling that you are cared for, appreciated, and that you’re working on something that aims to solve a problem in this world.
Visit our careers page and find out how you join us in solving the challenges of moving travelers around the world and support a thriving community of professional chauffeurs.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.