American Airlines Makes Leadership Changes


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American Airlines Makes Leadership Changes

By Shane Nolan

December 6, 2011 - American Airlines today announced the retirements of two company officers, as well as a series of changes to the company's global leadership team. Robert W. Reding, Executive Vice President of Operations and Mark L. Burdette, Vice President – Employee Relations will retire at the end of this month. Monte Ford, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO), has resigned effective December 31. 

James B. Ream is named Senior Vice President of Operations, assuming additional responsibility for Flight Operations, Operations Planning & Performance, Operations Finance & Planning, and the Safety, Security and Environmental Departments, in addition to his current role overseeing Maintenance & Engineering (M&E).

Denise Lynn, currently Vice President, Flight Service, will move to the role of Vice President of Employee Relations, Maya Leibman, currently President of the AAdvantage Loyalty Program, is promoted to Senior Vice President and CIO and Beverly Goulet is named Chief Restructuring Officer, in addition to her continuing role as Vice President – Corporate Development and Treasurer.

"We are fortunate to have so many talented leaders to fill some big shoes during a very critical time," said Tom Horton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Airlines. "The changes we're announcing today will ensure continuity in each role, while enabling us to broaden our team's experience and capabilities – something that will be important as we lead American through the restructuring and reaffirm its position of leadership in the global airline industry." 

Robert W. Reding, Executive Vice President – Operations, will retire Dec. 31, after 12 years of service to the company. Reding, a 40-year veteran of the aviation industry, has served in a variety of senior leadership roles for American and American Eagle Airlines, including Chief Operations Officer for American Eagle. Reding previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Regional Airlines and Reno Air. Reding also served as Vice President of Flight Operations at Midway Airlines and held various senior management positions at Air Florida. He was an officer and pilot flight examiner with the U.S. Air Force and has accumulated 10,000-plus hours as a commercial pilot. 

"I've had the distinct honor and pleasure to work with Bob for many years. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to American and its employees, and we have benefitted from his counsel, insight and wisdom throughout a very difficult and challenging decade with the company," said Horton. 


Reding's role will not be filled. Instead, some of his responsibilities will be assumed by James B. Ream, who is named Senior Vice President – Operations. Effective upon Reding's retirement in December, Ream will take over additional responsibility for the Flight Operations, Operations Planning & Performance, Operations Finance & Planning, and Safety, Security and Environmental departments, in addition to his role overseeing M&E. Ream will report directly to Horton. Tom Del Valle, Senior Vice President – Airport Services, currently reporting to Reding, also will report to Horton. 

"Under Jim's guidance, we've begun retooling many aspects of our M&E organization, making it a smarter, more efficient operation that is grounded in a rigorous culture of safety," said Horton. "We have much work to do as we continue strengthening our domestic and global network, and begin implementing our transformational fleet strategy. We're confident Jim can tackle these challenges head-on while ensuring the safe operation of our 3,300 daily flights worldwide." 

Burdette Retires; Lynn Takes On Crucial Role Overseeing Employee Relations. Also retiring Dec. 31 is Mark L. Burdette, a 20-year veteran of American who most recently served as Vice President – Employee Relations (ER). Burdette has had an extensive career in the ER organization, holding a variety of strategic positions. He has served as primary liaison between the airline and the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American's pilots, and served as point person between the airline and the company's ground workers. 

Horton said, "Mark has led many successful union negotiations over the years. His wealth of experience and his collaborative approach to bargaining made him a great asset to the company." 

Replacing Burdette is Denise Lynn, who is named Vice President – Employee Relations. Lynn will lead an ER team responsible for relations with all of American's employee groups. Lynn will provide support to American's 74,000 employees, as well as lead collective bargaining efforts with the company's unionized work groups. "Denise is a real 'people person' and a great leader who has a deep commitment to developing people and creating a respectful and productive working environment," said Horton. 

Separately, Monte Ford, Senior Vice President and CIO, has resigned effective Dec. 31. Widely regarded as a leader in the field of information technology (IT), Ford has been honored by many publications and technology industry organizations for his insight and accomplishments. According to Horton, Ford joined American at a time when the airline needed to regain its position as a technological leader in business. 

"Since joining American in 2001, Monte has been relentlessly focused on restoring American to the forefront of technological innovation, and he's made it happen. Monte's commitment to customer-enabling technology and persistent motivation to see that technology effectively implemented in our business will have a lasting effect," said Horton. "Monte is a visionary and it's understandable that – having accomplished what he set out to do – he's ready to move on to another technology turnaround challenge worthy of the specialized expertise and dedication he has to offer." 

Succeeding Ford is Maya Leibman, who is promoted to Senior Vice President and CIO. In her new role, Leibman will lead the company's IT strategy and operations, including the continued deployment of next-generation technology to improve customer service and efficiency. She will report to Horton. 

"Maya's diverse experience with American, coupled with her enthusiasm for tackling tough challenges and her insatiable appetite for innovation make her the perfect candidate to lead our IT organization," said Horton. "Maya brings a unique perspective to the CIO role, having worked so closely with American's best customers in her position as President of AAdvantage. She is both passionate about our customers and experienced in leveraging technology to serve them best." 

In a related announcement, American named Beverly Goulet Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO), a role she will serve in addition to her current position as Vice President – Corporate Development and Treasurer. As CRO, Goulet will head the development and implementation of the company's restructuring efforts, including procedures and processes designed to immediately improve the core business, as well as cohesive strategies aimed at ensuring the long-term survival and success of American. Goulet will continue reporting to Chief Financial Officer Bella Goren. 

"Bev's experience handling complex, business-critical transactions during the past 18 years made her selection as CRO an easy one," said Horton. "While restructuring will help us to improve our financial position and make us more competitive, it will require an unprecedented level of coordination across functional and geographic areas of our business. Bev understands this and has the focused intensity and leadership skills necessary to get the job done right." 

James B. "Jim" Ream, Senior Vice President – Operations: Ream joined American in 2010 as Senior Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering, responsible for all of American's maintenance operations worldwide. Previously, he was Chief Executive Officer of ExpressJet, a company with 244 aircraft flying under the Continental Express brand, as well as corporate and charter flights. 

Prior to that, Ream served as President and Chief Operating Officer for Continental Express Airlines. From 1987 to 1995, Ream worked at American Airlines in various positions of increasing responsibility in the corporate purchasing, financial planning, capital planning, and finance groups. Ream served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic and crew chief. He earned an associate of science degree in Aviation Maintenance and holds FAA certificates as an Airframe & Powerplant mechanic and private pilot. He earned a BBA degree from San Diego State University and a MBA degree from Northwestern University.

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