A short interview with Dave Ridley who spent 27 years at Southwest in an array of senior executive roles and is now an advisor to the CEO. In it he gives us a glimpse of what he talks about in his powerful speeches.
Dave Ridley Advisor to the CEO, Southwest AirlinesTalks about Culture, Leadership, Service Excellence
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Southwest is the largest domestic airline in the USA and the only airline in the world to post a profit every year for the last forty years. It consistently ranks in Fortune Magazine’s Top 10 Most Admired Brands in the World.
Over his 27 years at Southwest, Dave Ridley served across multiple disciplines and in an array of senior executive roles: Chief Marketing Officer, SVP People and Leadership Development, VP Marketing and Sales and VP Ground Operations.
Since 1998 he served as a member of the Executive Planning Committee, the CEO’s staff responsible for corporate strategy and policy.
During his tenure at Southwest Dave’s extensive accomplishments include leading the development of southwest.com, now the world’s second most used travel website and repositioned the brand as A Symbol of Freedom, a marketing campaign that set Southwest apart from the many rival low fare copycats.
He was VP Operations when 9/11 took place and was responsible for ensuring that the 11,000 employees who served at airports – customer service agents, baggage handlers, skycaps, and ground equipment mechanics – were taken care of and continued to provide world class service to its Customers during this challenging period.
Having turned 60 in January, 2013 Dave voluntarily handed over his CMO role to a younger protégé and assumed his last position of SVP of Business Development. In this role Dave served on the CEO’s staff leveraging his diverse experience to evaluate business opportunities across all functional lines while also providing strategic direction, consulting, mentoring, counsel and advice to other executives, leaders, and teams throughout the organisation.
Dave now undertakes select speaking and consulting engagements across the world sharing his passion for lessons learned in his career at Southwest focusing on service excellence, leadership, and the importance of corporate culture. In addition, he has retained an office at Southwest and serves as Senior Advisor to the CEO on a part time basis. He oversees a number of companywide initiatives; represents the Company in select public forums; and mentors leaders throughout the organization.
How to Create a Great Place to Work Culture
Dave was the keynote speaker at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s (ADCB) annual customer experience summit for our top 150 leaders. Prior to the summit Dave did a thorough job of understanding ADCB journey towards Service Excellence, where we were, and what our ambition is. Dave tailored his speech in line with ADCB’s Service Ambition and illustrated the service road map beautifully to the audience. His speech was a catalyst that has reignited our leaders passion for service excellence, which is clearly evidenced by the increase in the number of change initiatives that have been kicked off and successfully implemented since the event.
Would definitely recommend Dave as a speaker to help put to the customers and the employees back at the top of the agenda where it always belongs.
Ala'a Eraiqat Group Chief Executive Officer & Board Member Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Dave Ridley has been the only speaker I have seen that truly gets both what it means and what it takes to transform an organization culture to one that is employee and customer centric. His depth of ‘real-life’ insight is what separates Dave from the crowd and his recommendations are genuinely implementable. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from Dave Ridley – there is no one better.
Mike Cunningham Executive Vice President Head of Group Strategy & Change