With all of the difficulties people are facing
in our industry these days, here is some great and hopeful news.
Jessica Tyler will assume the role of
President of American Airlines Cargo.
announcement expected in a few days will see Rick Elieson, current
AA Cargo President capping a three-year tour of dramatic change for
cargo at the carrier, moving on to work his magic for AA’s frequent
We will talk about
Rick later, but today this is about Jessica Tyler
only will she be the first woman President in the 76-year history
of AA Cargo, but FT learned she will additionally have expanded responsibilities
over American's passenger operations.
One Smart Cookie
We have covered Jessica since she
served as American Airlines Managing Director of Cargo Culture and
Transformation, where she led the implementation team in a very
successful collaboration effort after the carrier chose IBS, to
become one of a handful of carriers to leverage all of iCargo’s
Jessica was a key player as the airline moved toward a true end-to-end
platform from booking to accounting and everything in between for
All About Teamwork
“I love supporting the teams
that are driving culture and transformational efforts within our
business,” Jessica said in 2018 describing the IBS integration
“So while my title seemed a
bit fancy, it means that my team gets to think about and implement
ways to support our people (no, I’m not HR) and how we move
our business forward every single day.”
“We certainly created some best
practices for others to use, but we also created a lot of lessons
learned that others benefited from as well.
“One of which is, don’t
“What seems like a minor change
on paper can be a major change for the human being experiencing
Carrying Change Forward
Last October we spoke to Jessica in
Dallas, (then VP Strategy & Development since September 2018)
where we spent a few days.
We were struck by the level of excitement
and purpose as Jessica and team shared some thoughts.
Jessica is such an amazing leader;
she is inspiring and driven.
Tackling The Paperwork Jungle
“When I first started supporting
our transformational group,” she said, “I’d been
around a bit so I understood the amount of paper in our process,
or so I thought.
“When you follow an auditor
around, you see paper that supports the paper and we make an extra
copy of that paper so that we can keep that on file.
“You also see the files of paper
that we have to keep around to show we follow policy and regulations.
“I think if we can leverage
technology more in this industry, it not only helps the environment
and makes it easy to share and utilize information, I think we actually
make this industry even safer than it is today (and it’s already
Work Smarter Simply Adds
“We could repurpose the human
energy put into checking all the paper, to let humans do what they
do best—share and learn from each other.
“We should be putting our energy
into teaching and supporting the teams that have to execute on the
complex policies and regulations that we have in this industry,”
Jessica Tyler said.
Jessica & Family Values
“Honestly, my ‘look to’
role models are my parents. I admire the incredible sacrifices they
made along the way to raise four children.
“They owned a small business
for 40 years and the work ethic, the constant reinventing of their
business to stay competitive, the way they merged work and life,
and the importance they put on education, are all things I try to
emulate as a mom, and as a leader that supports super-talented people
every day at work.
Diversity & Women in Air Cargo
don’t love generalizing about any ‘group’ of people.
“To say ‘women are talented
at X’ is weird to me.
“I get that men are from Mars
and women are from Venus (remember that book!?) and that there are
some real differences—believe me, I live with three sons,
a male spouse, and a male dog, so I get it.
“To me, diversity is about variation
of thought, perspective, experiences, talent, etc. and it’s
really hard to fully get that without a lot of different ‘groups’
“It’s about coverage,
“One of my very first large
integration meetings at American was a gathering of all the various
leads from different divisions, maybe 75 people in all.
“There were very few women and
very few people under the age of 50.
“Those were the ‘groups’
I could visually see underrepresented, but I’m sure there
were other diverse experiences we were missing and I’m sure
there were other diverse talent/experiences that were present that
I couldn’t see with my eyes.
“I typically don’t notice
things like that, but it was so evident it was hard to miss.
“That was some years ago and
I’m happy to say that today we are way more focused than ever
on the diversity needed to make this great company even stronger.”
Why The Math Matters
“I love math, but not in the
way that most math nerds love math.
“I love a good debate around
chaos theory. I believe that order is possible in the midst of mayhem.
“I honestly think a mathematical
mind is what keeps me calm in the midst of craziness.
“I don’t love spreadsheets
or modeling or any of that, what I love about math concepts is that
no matter the challenge if you work creatively enough, you’ll
find a fit—a model, a structure, or a framework. It might
not be perfect, but it might just get you there—you’ll
see the order out of what was once clutter.
“All life and work challenges
are that same way.
“There is always a way, no matter
“I don’t use all of the
upper-level math I learned, but I definitely use the concepts all
“I think of culture like a network
(and not in the airline sense of the term).
“I’ve always thought of
leaders as the nodes in a network.
“Formal and informal leaders
are the hubs of care, influence, and information. “They
are the connectors.
“Just like we think about ways
to optimize our hubs as an airline, I think about how we equip and
support the critical nodes of the people network.
“If they aren’t supported
and ready, the network of people falls apart.
“If you support those critical
connectors—the people hubs of the network—the right
way, anything is possible.”
It Takes Good Timing
Jessica who takes command of AA Cargo
as the world recovers from the worst global pandemic in recent history,
an event that has impacted the airlines like no other, went on the
record with these thoughts two years ago.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2020
and here is someone whose words seem to get it about the world of
Jessica is no overnight sensation
but rather a transformational leader in a time of change like no
“Our projects and the people
involved are what I think about as I fall asleep and it’s
first on my mind in the morning.
“Every single day our team
is working to ensure that not only do we have a smooth technology
transition, which is complex enough to cause stress and angst, but
most importantly, that our team and customers are ready when they
need to be.
“Taking care of our team and
involving everyone along the way so that we all own this transformation
is an every-day priority.”