Oscar Munoz, 56, was named United Airlines’ new CEO yesterday. Though a Board Member of United Continental Holdings since 2010 and involved in the Continental organization since 2004, I had never heard of him prior to yesterday’s news of Jeff Smisek stepping down. Here’s a glimpse at the resume of who is now running world’s second largest carrier:
- BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern California in 1982
- MBA from Pepperdine University in 1986
- President of CSX Corp. (railroad) from 02/2015 to 09/2015
- Chief Operating Officer of CSX Corp. from 02/2012 to 09/2015
- Executive Vice President from 01/2012 to 02/2015
- United Continental Holdings Board Member since 2010
- Continental Airlines Board Member since 2004
- Chief Financial Officer of CSX Corp. from 05/2003 to 02/2012.
- Worked for Coca Cola Enterprises, Coca Cola Company and USWest Communications, Inc.
- Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration of Qwest Communications International Inc. from 06/2000 to 12/2000
The important thing to note is that Munoz has a very different background than Smisek. He has a lot of executive experience and his positions will likely give him a different outlook than that of an attorney. Key will be whether Munoz understands that small off-handed comments (like that of former COO John Rainey) can do tremendous damage. Words matter and actions speak louder than words.
Munoz is in the unenviable position of taking over a company that has been mired with a bad reputation for operational reliability and customer service. Soon, I will lay out a five-point plan that Munoz can use as a schematic to make United not just profitable, but truly worthy of the “Friendly Skies” moniker. Of course I’m just an arm chair CEO, but Munoz has expressed a desire to listen and as a very frequent flyer on United who has a pretty good feel for what United’s customers are thinking, I hope he will be open to suggestions from all sources.