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How JetBlue's CIO showcased leadership

Last November I was travelling from Ft. Lauderdale to New York with JetBlue Airways. In the middle of the flight I noticed a well dressed man who was working the aisle, picking up garbage. I was a little bit confused since he was not wearing a steward's uniform.

A little bit later the head stewardess asked us through the speaker to give a round of applause to the CIO of JetBlue, Eash Sundaram, "who always likes to give a hand to the crew". There I had my answer. The Senior VP of Finances took the mic a little bit later and introduced himself. He thanked the passengers for their trust and the crew for their hard work. To show appreciation the executives raffled two round trips. Not only did two passengers win but also their serving crew members.

What made this event so remarkable is that you barely see C-level executives being directly in contact with end consumers/customers or associates that far down the corporate ladder. I believe that this simple act was an example of great leadership. Working shoulder on shoulder with crew members  and trying to understand their daily obstacles results in mutual trust. The key to any successful leadership.

It was obvious that the crew members enjoyed their executive's company and that the atmosphere was absolutely positive. [Wondering how many feel the same way when their C-level executive is around them]

It was refreshing to see the interaction and to witness the effect on the passengers. You better believe that after that flight you had 120 passengers who became brand ambassadors.

At the end I asked Eash Sundaram if he is the CIO of JetBlue (wanted to make sure I understood the stewardess correctly). He answered: "When I go to work I leave my title at home".


Dimitrios Settos (managing partner B3-Marketing)