New American Airlines president aims high
Tom Horton , the new president of American Airlines and AMR, grew up admiring the astronauts who lived in his Houston neighborhood.
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Since: May 08
#1 Oct 17, 2010
Here's a clue. You want to improve, raise morale. No I'm not going to complain about the usual, that falls on deaf ears. How about a simple thing. Summer weeks for vacation are blocked out. Yes I know you can use the vacation relief person in the mix and cover summer volume. There is no more summer volume, full is full. Load factors are up year around. Meanwhile family guys get vacation in April and May when the kids are in school, and are working when they are not. California Daily Council has an ad campaign. Happy milk comes from happy cows. You want to move up in DOT ranking,, make the cows happy.
#2 Oct 17, 2010
This newby is just another pencil pusher, just like all CEO's and company presidents. He has two customers to worry about, his internal and external.
Since: Sep 08
#3 Oct 18, 2010
Mr. Horton will likely continue the mantra that he is not responsible for employee morale since he has no way to quantify it.
As Prost so eloquently said above, if you want happy milk, create happy cows.
However, that has not been the corporate culture at American Airlines in a very long time, if ever (even back to the days of C.R. Smith).
#4 Oct 18, 2010
From reading his biography, it seems he's a long time American Airlines employee who doesn't look like he's worked anywhere else.
This is not what American needs. American needs someone who has not been corrupted by it's disfunctional corporate culture.
Anyhow, Mr.Horton, good luck. I hope you can turn things around.
Since: Sep 08
#5 Oct 18, 2010
Mr. Horton did indeed have a break in his employment at American Airlines/AMR
"But when chairman Dave Dorman called again in mid-2002, Horton listened to his persuasive pitch. He joined AT&T as senior executive vice president and CFO, eventually becoming vice chairman.
"It was the right thing for the family," Horton said. "It was a good time to go out and learn something new try a different business, different location. The kids were young enough that we could move them and it wouldn't disrupt the family too much."
The move to New Jersey also meant a return to where Horton had met his wife, Janet. The summer before graduating, he had had an internship in Morristown, N.J., and stayed on the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus, where she was attending a weeklong summer class. They married the following year.
Time at AT&T
Dorman says AT&T needed someone who was cool under pressure and had experience dealing with difficult situations.
"Tom stuck out for a variety of reasons. First of all, he was a guy who seemed to me absolutely unflappable," Dorman said. AT&T also needed someone who knew more than numbers, he said.
"The training that American had provided Tom operationally, having run the international business, really appealed to me," Dorman said. "I would have a business partner in the CFO job, not just an accountant."
Horton "was parachuted into a very difficult position," said Paul J. Taubman, a Morgan Stanley executive who worked with AT&T and Horton.
AT&T's business was under attack, the stock was under pressure and big telephone companies such as SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. were competing directly with AT&T.
Horton was quick to understand that AT&T needed to investigate its alternatives. After Horton and Dorman realized that AT&T could not remain independent, Horton helped bring AT&T to the merger with SBC, Taubman said.
"He inherited a very, very difficult strategic hand to play," said Taubman, co-president of institutional securities at Morgan Stanley. "A lot of the crown jewels had already been spun off or sold, including the cable and wireless business. In light of that difficult environment, he did a very admirable job in a very trying period."
Under all that pressure, Horton never blew up, even when he got angry, Dorman said.
"Tom did a controlled burn. He would get quiet. He wouldn't get loud. Generally, he would reserve himself. I don't think Tom ever got really angry with me. I watched him get angry with other people in situations," Dorman said.
"It has a lot to do with his faith, but he could be almost Buddhist-like in terms of his ability to deal with adversity. It was like 'Hey, this is not going to get the best of me,' " Dorman said.
In the end, AT&T could not be saved as an independent company. But the name lives on; SBC bought AT&T in late 2005 and renamed itself as AT&T. Horton said he was glad that they were able to save the brand and protect shareholders and employees as best they could.
"It turned out to be a great experience," Horton said. "I learned a lot. It was rewarding in every way, professionally."
At the beginning of 2006, Horton was ready to look for another job, possibly a corporate job or with an equity company. He and his wife were in the Bahamas on a fishing trip in February 2006 when the bait was thrown to him.
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