When Sam Gilliland, chairman and CEO of Sabre Holdings, first entered the travel industry, he was an undergraduate electrical engineering student who partnered with his roommate to start a travel information company. Even though their business, which involved building and populating advertising kiosks, then placing them at visitors’ centers throughout the state, couldn’t pay the grocery bills, his passion for the travel industry had taken root. Two decades later, he was named president and CEO of Sabre Holdings, where his love of travel, his continued entrepreneurial spirit, and his technical expertise inform his leadership of more than 9,000 employees in 59 countries, spanning all segments of the travel industry.
Before his appointment to the CEO role, which he handles from a cubicle (just like the rest of his employees at Sabre’s Southlake, Texas headquarters), Sam served in several senior leadership positions at Sabre Holdings including president and CEO of Travelocity, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sabre Holdings, group president of the company’s Airline Solutions business, and senior vice president and general manager of Sabre Business Travel Solutions, a start-up venture within the company.
Before joining Sabre Holdings in 1988, Sam worked as an electrical engineer for Lockheed Missiles and Space in Austin, Texas.
Sam holds an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas. In 2008, he was appointed to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Committee by Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.
When he’s not traveling the globe meeting with customers and employees, Sam enjoys spending time with his family and sneaking in an occasional marathon.