Former CEO of Southwest Airlines
Workplace cultures that place “people” as their top priority have the greatest long-term impact and success, says Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Having led the airline through many turbulent times, Putnam piloted the company to success by creating a team of employees whose ideas and input were valued, listened to, and often acted on. During his tenure, Southwest tripled in size and tripled in profitability and remains today a corporate model emulated all over the world.
After working with Southwest, Putnam was later recruited to be the CEO of the then-failing Braniff International, where he became the first CEO to successfully restructure a major airline and take it through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was at Braniff that he learned crisis management while rallying 10,000 employees to new heights as they fought to save their company. Prior to working with Southwest and Braniff, Putnam had spent over twenty years with United Airlines, his final position as vice president of group marketing.
Putnam is the author of The Winds of Turbulence, and holds an MBA in marketing from the University of Chicago, as well as having attended Harvard’s Advanced Management Program.