Jim Parker

Jim Parker

Former CEO of Southwest Airlines

Develop a Company Culture of Winning!

Innovating in a mature industry takes a specific type of vision and discipline to stand out and win among competitors who otherwise look the same. Execution and the airline industry was as mature as they came. Jim Parker led Southwest Airlines, in a highly competitive and commoditized industry to develop a culture of operational discipline strategies that differentiated Southwest. During his tenure, the company was profitable every year. This helped Southwest Airlines to become one of three of the most admired companies by Forbes, despite facing the 9/11 tragedy that rocked the company’s competition.

Southwest was able to win against its competition by identifying opportunities, implementing change and adapting quickly. The company’s success rested on Parker’s ability to develop and maintain a culture where employees wanted to ‘do the right thing’. He built a highly engaged workforce that felt empowered to help and wanted the company to succeed. This translated to better customer experience, unconventional thinking and bottom line financial strength. Suggestion: Jim will share his methods of engaging employees to buy-in to the company’s vision, empowering employees to “Do the Right Thing” (Book plug), and making customers feel how important they really are.

Practical Applications for Parker’s presentation:

– Create an “entrepreneurial” mindset of developing new ideas to address the mature dealer market (similar to the airline industry).

– Build a organizational discipline throughout your team to implement new ideas.

– Develop a structure that engages every employee invest in success.

View Jim's Presentation from DSES 2016

About Jim Parker

Jim ParkerJim Parker is a lawyer by trade, having received both his undergraduate and law degrees from The University of Texas. After serving as law clerk to a federal judge and as an Assistant Attorney General of Texas, Jim joined the San Antonio law firm of Oppenheimer, Rosenberg, Kelleher, and Wheatley. As luck would have it, one of the co-founders of that law firm, Herb Kelleher, also co-founded a small Texas airline called Southwest, and Jim soon stumbled into the airline industry. After serving as outside counsel for Southwest for seven years, Jim became General Counsel for 15 years, and ultimately served as Southwest’s CEO for three years.

During Jim’s tenure as CEO, Southwest was named as the most admired airline, and one of the three most admired companies in America by Fortune magazine; Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine; and one of the World’s Most Socially Responsible Companies by Global Finance magazine. Jim was also named co-CEO of the Year in 2001 by Morningstar.com, and was named to Institutional Investor’s list of Best CEO’s in America in 2004. Jim’s proudest accomplishment, however, comes from the fact that Southwest Airlines was able to protect the jobs of all of its employees, with no furloughs or pay cuts in the aftermath of 9/11, while also remaining profitable every year and, in fact, every quarter during his tenure as CEO. Jim is presently retired from the airline industry, and serves on the Board of Directors of the successful Texas Roadhouse restaurant company, and also serves on the Advisory Council for the MIT Sloan Business School Leadership Center.

Jim is also the author of the book Do the Right Thing – How Dedicated Employees Produce Loyal Customers and Large Profits, published by Wharton School Publishing.