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- Business Advisor
Howard Putnam is the former CEO of
Southwest and Braniff Airlines and Group
VP Marketing for United Airlines. Howard
is a business and motivational speaker,
author, consultant, commentator, and
online mentor on: Leadership, Customer
Service, Change, Transformation and
Howard Putnam was raised on an Iowa
farm and learned to fly out of a pasture
in his Father's J-3 Piper Cub. He
entered the airline business as a
baggage handler at Midway Airport in
Chicago for Capital Airlines at age 17.
Capital was soon merged into United and
Howard held thirteen different positions
in sales, services and staff assignments
in several cities, before being named
Group Vice President of Marketing for
United Airlines, the world's largest
airline, in 1976.
In 1978 he was recruited to become
President and CEO of fledgling Southwest
Airlines in Dallas, TX. While at
Southwest Howard and his team tripled
the revenues and tripled profitability
in three years. They also successfully
guided Southwest through airline
deregulation and Southwest was the first
air carrier to order the Boeing 737-300,
which later became the largest selling
aircraft ever for Boeing.
Howard led the visioning process at Southwest as well as further developing the "fun" culture and excellent customer service that Southwest is still known for today. Southwest has been profitable every year for over thirty years, a record unsurpassed by any other airline.
In 1981, Howard was recruited by the board of
directors of Braniff International to come
aboard as CEO and save and/or restructure the
financially failing airline. He was the first
airline CEO to successfully take a major carrier
into, through and out of chapter 11. Braniff
flew again in 1984.
He is the author of "The Winds of Turbulence"
on leadership and ethics. Harvard University
wrote a case study on his experiences at Braniff,
"The Ethics of Bankruptcy" as a model as to how
to handle stakeholders in crisis.
He has also been an entrepreneur, serving as Chairman of a startup investment company and two small manufacturing and distribution companies.
Howard and Krista have two children, Michael,
a commercial airline captain and Sue, in public
relations and marketing.