The aviation industry used to be a lot like professional sports teams such as baseball, hockey, basketball and even football; the coach/manager of one team was likely to be seen leading another team after a contract ended or a change in ownership or management. Similar movement used to be commonplace in the airline industry but it has diminished a bit; most likely due to industry consolidation and fewer job opportunities. Trevor Stedke, formerly of FedEx, where he was managing director of aircraft engineering planning and performance, is now Southwest’s Vice President of Technical Services.
Mobility within the industry can be beneficial allowing the introduction and adoption of best practices, new ideas as well as a reenergized team and commitment from staff with a new “boss” on board. To be most effective the company should communicate the reasons for the change, the benefits as well as the details of the change, before the new “boss” is on the job.
FedEx, which flies a substantial percentage of its fleet to major airports every night, schedules maintenance during these periods where service programs and processes are in motion every day. This is similar, in some respects, to how Southwest operates in its point to point model, which could mean early benefit for Southwest.
Quite often a new manager provides a jolt of enthusiasm and brings skills that add immediate value and impact. Conversely, the organization provides the new manager the opportunity to learn new processes and methods that will expand his/her skill set. And, oh by the way, Mr. Stedke’s Southwest predecessor moved to Delta. So there is another opportunity for cross fertilization.