CLEAR is Taking Flight Outside the Airport Terminal

Bringing its identity technology to broader applications in hospitality and travel, CLEAR’s vision for its future is driving growth and innovation among its team.

Written by Cathleen Draper
Published on Feb. 15, 2023
CLEAR is Taking Flight Outside the Airport Terminal
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“Selfish.”

That’s the word Jane Stanton uses to describe how she feels when building solutions at CLEAR.

It’s not because the issue she’s solving for is one she alone experiences. It’s one we can all relate to: encountering delays when getting from point A to point B. 

“Travel can be hard,” she said. “We all know the places where it can get better. I feel like I’m solving problems that help make my experience better when I travel, as well.”

CLEAR started its mission to make travel easier in what is likely the most dreaded portion of air travel: security. For those who opt-in, its technology turns personal features — fingerprints, face and eyes — into biometric identification to make that process smoother.

 

HOW CLEAR WORKS

CLEAR has lanes next to security checkpoints at 50+ airports across the United States. Once enrolled, members safely speed through the traditional security line by finding a CLEAR lane, where they step up to the pod, scan their boarding pass and verify their identity with their eyes or fingerprints. Once the identity check is complete, a CLEAR Ambassador escorts them to the front of the TSA physical security line.

 

CLEAR’s technology isn’t limited to this one use case. In fact, the company is forging a path into other sectors of the travel and hospitality industry. 

“When you think of the customer experience, there’s usually one moment in time when the experience is interrupted,” said Stanton. “And that is the moment in time when you have to take out your wallet. That is where drop-off happens.”

CLEAR’s goal is to be there at that moment when it’s necessary to prove your identity — and not just at the airport. Stanton is head of travel and hospitality, and she works with industry partners like hotels, rental car services, cruise lines, theme parks, ride shares, stadiums and online travel agencies to find ways for customers to skip the line and securely prove their identity.

That could look like a mobile key to your hotel room or ordering a beer to your seat at an NFL game with just a few taps on your phone — no line, no ID check for age verification. Identity confirmation can be as easy as snapping a selfie.

CLEAR is also expanding its mobile app to align with these partner experiences, in addition to driving its airport presence further. Users can plan their trip to the airport based on their travel preferences, and CLEAR’s platform will get them to the gate right on time. The vision is for users to be able to leverage their CLEAR identity along their journey across a network of partner services and other touch points.

The vision is for users to be able to leverage their CLEAR identity along their journey across a network of partner services and other touch points.

 

To get to CLEAR’s visionary destination, leaders like Stanton are shaping the direction it is headed. They have aligned their teams around the company’s goals, formed strong leadership practices and revamped their hiring practices to grow CLEAR’s people and the company — all to build a customer experience worth obsessing over.

“That is our company priority,” Stanton said. “We want to make everything you do in life easy, simple and secure.”

 

A CLEAR Ambassador stands at the entrance of CLEAR's airport lane
CLEAR

 

Indefatigable Pursuit of Growth

Stanton started her career in sports, and she thought she would stay in that industry throughout her career. But in 2019, when she embarked on a job search, a friend introduced her to a connection at CLEAR. 

Stanton went into the CLEAR office for an informational interview, even though the role wasn’t what she envisioned for herself. Within the first 10 minutes, she was hooked.

“The vision and the North Star that CLEAR had was beyond my wildest dreams,” Stanton said. “What really drew me to CLEAR was that this was going to be a time in my career when every person I worked with and every project and campaign would force me to level up. There was just a different culture, a different excitement here.”

The vision and the North Star that CLEAR had was beyond my wildest dreams.”

 

Like Stanton, the excitement for CLEAR’s growth across the organization drives SVP of Product Theresa Dold to do more and match the energy that others bring to the table. That infectious spirit is something CLEAR values, too, and that is one of the reasons Dold joined the team in October.

“My favorite value is: ‘Be indefatigable,’” Dold said. “Be tireless, persistent. ‘No’ is just a step on the way to getting a ‘yes.’”

 

CLEAR’S VALUES

  • Obsessed with the Customer Experience
  • Be Indefatigable
  • Bias for Action
  • Speak Up
  • Embrace Change
  • Own It
  • Our Great People

 

SVP of Engineering Amanda Li-Garfin frequently reiterates the “speak up” company value to her team. As engineers, their job is to innovate toward the right solutions for CLEAR’s partners and users, and to revisit what’s currently working to future-proof solutions as the company scales.

“We’re in a hyper-growth industry, and what we have today will not suit the needs for tomorrow,” Li-Garfin said.

To drive innovation, one of the mottos she holds for her team is: “Strong opinions loosely held,” encouraging engineers to come up with new ideas and debate them respectfully. Team members effectively facilitate feedback, even when it’s tough to hear, because speaking up about what does and doesn’t work is part of every employee’s job.

“It leads to a highly collaborative environment,” Dold said. “At the end of the day, we’re anchored on the business results we’re trying to drive together.”

 

 

CLEAR's identification pods at an airport
CLEAR

 

The Secret Ingredient to Success

When Dold thinks of CLEAR’s mission as a leader of the product team, she thinks of the people first.

“People are the secret sauce for us to come up with novel ideas, to implement those ideas in an elegant way that also drives the business forward,” Dold said.

Part of the people-first approach that CLEAR’s leaders take is cultivating teams of owner-operators who understand how their work fits into CLEAR’s vision.

People are the secret sauce for us to come up with novel ideas, to implement those ideas in an elegant way that also drives the business forward.”

 

To build an owner-operator mindset on her team, Dold encourages folks to actively seek information across the organization. She pushes them to talk to other teams like finance, marketing, members, partnerships or growth to understand how product work drives each department, and vice versa.

“Inherently understanding how product outcomes map to business outcomes is an important line to draw because it allows the product team to confidently — and, dare I say, ruthlessly — prioritize how we think about vision, strategy and roadmap,” Dold said.

Through peer-to-peer collaboration like this, these owner-operators feel equipped to make the right decisions and then carve out more space for innovation.

“To get to a place where CLEAR is universally regarded as a secure identity platform that goes beyond the airport, there has to be space for that innovation, that big thinking,” Dold said.

To get to a place where CLEAR is universally regarded as a secure identity platform that goes beyond the airport, there has to be space for that innovation, that big thinking.”

 

Photo of CLEAR office space with panoramic views at sunset
CLEAR

 

‘We’re not trying to hire more of us.’

As CLEAR expands its capabilities outside the airport walls, it needs to expand its teams. 

To bring in the right candidates, CLEAR has recently revamped its hiring process. It starts with the job posting. Leaders have a brand-new format for job descriptions that are more direct so candidates can understand exactly how they will be successful in the role. 

 

ONBOARDING FIELD TRIP

CLEAR’s onboarding process includes a field trip to the airport. New hires at CLEAR’s corporate office meet the team of Ambassadors who bring users through CLEAR’s lanes. “That serves to build a lot of empathy with field ops where it’s truly 24/7,” Dold said.

 

Promoting inclusivity in the engineering and product organization is a focus for Li-Garfin. It was one of her first priorities for the team when she joined in October.

To do that, every interview has a preset script and rubric. Coupled with new job descriptions, the application and interview process is candidate-friendly and more objective.

“We’re not trying to hire more of us,” Li-Garfin said. “We’re trying to hire diverse and inclusive individuals, and we strive to be intentional in how we build and develop our teams.”

We’re not trying to hire more of us. We’re trying to hire diverse and inclusive individuals, and we strive to be intentional in how we build and develop our teams.”

 

For product org interviews, Dold and her team have reworked the group case study portion of the interview to include more preset questions to help eliminate bias. 

“The indefatigable nature of our team really comes out in those group case study environments, which is great because you want somebody that’s going to match, if not exceed, the energy that the group is collectively bringing to the table and decide if this is the place for them,” Dold said.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by CLEAR.

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