Julie Rath, Vice President of Everything at American Airlines, is being promoted to Senior Vice President of Airport Operations. Hers was the shortest tenure for a head of American AAdvantage, while also in charge of customer experience and marketing.
Instead of promoting the current managing director of the program (Heather Samp) or bringing in a new Vice President, American Airlines is moving the AAdvantage program underneath revenue management, which is led by Scott Chandler.
Already the AAdvantage team had been split up between the customer-facing program (which will report up to revenue management) and mileage sales, which is headed up by Scott Laurence, the executive who bounced from JetBlue to Delta to American in a matter of weeks. Both of those teams report up to Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja.
There are other moving pieces, as well, such as Caroline Clayton (VP, Communications) adding marketing to her portfolio. And they’ll be hiring a new Vice President of Customer Experience who will report to Raja, further sidestepping Chief Customer Officer Alison Taylor.
A message from Vasu, Cole and Ron: Organizational update
It is important to make sure our teams remain aligned with the evolving needs of the business. With Julie Rath’s upcoming move to Airports as SVP of Airport Operations, we are using this moment as a catalyst to make several adjustments to our organizational alignment. These moves will not only get us better organized against our objectives, they also will allow us to lean into great talent and provide expanded roles and responsibilities.
Starting with the Commercial organization, we are going to split Julie’s soon-to-be open role into three areas of focus and position them in strategic places across the organization.
Loyalty will move to Scott Chandler, our VP of Revenue Management. Scott’s group oversees all commercial programs, including pricing and optimization, so we can ensure our initiatives bring value to both the customer and the company. As we know, life is better as an AAdvantage member. Adding the AAdvantage team to this organization will make sure our AAdvantage members are able to unlock benefits across the entirety of our commercial programming. With this shift, Heather Samp, Managing Director of AAdvantage, and her team will now report to Scott.
Marketing will move into Global Engagement and report to Caroline Clayton, who will assume a new title of VP of Communications and Marketing. Combining these two organizations will allow us to seamlessly communicate our commercial programs to our customers and team members in a holistic way via paid, earned, social, and other media channels and platforms. In essence, Caroline will serve as our chief storyteller. Dana Lawrence, Managing Director of Global Marketing, and her team now will report to Caroline.
We will hire for a new VP of Customer Experience, with that individual reporting to Vasu. The person in this role will be responsible for the physical products and technical touchpoints our customers experience on their journey with us. And this leader will work to make sure we are developing innovative technology that our customers and team members value. We will have more to come in the near future on this role. Both Clarissa Sebastian, Managing Director of Customer Journey – Products and Design, and Kim Cisek, Managing Director of Customer Experience – Digital Transformation, will report to the future VP.
Concurrent with these moves, we will make two additional shifts across Commercial, People and Global Engagement:
- Leadership Development and Learning Solutions will return to the People team. As we look to ramp up our leadership development and enterprise learning programs in 2023 and beyond, the timing is right to better align these programs with our talent development, DEI and people business partner teams. Developing and retaining talent has never been more important – and this team plays a key role in this effort. Tracy Salters, Director of Global Learning and Development, and his team now will report to Cole.
- Terrence Bradshaw, Director of Talent and Development for the Commercial Team, now will report to Quad Kent, VP of Global People Support. Making sure our Commercial team attracts and retains the best people in the industry is a priority. Terrence has done a terrific job of helping to source and develop our talent in this area in recent years, and this move will further support his team’s work and align these efforts with the People team.
As our business continues to evolve, so do the organizations we have in place to support the airline. We remain committed to our two primary goals: Running a reliable operation and returning to profitability. These moves set us up for even more success in helping to achieve our goals. Thank you for all you are doing to support American.
Having AAdvantage in the same group as revenue management would make sense if the goal were for AAdvantage to gain access to more saver award inventory. That hasn’t been the trajectory at American, which has focused on buying seats outside of traditional saver buckets and more making additional inventory (‘web saver’) available to customers based on prevailing fares.
Instead the explanation for the move is, “Adding the AAdvantage team to this organization will make sure our AAdvantage members are able to unlock benefits across the entirety of our commercial programming.” Allowing AAdvantage members to ‘unlike benefits across the entirely of the airline’s commercial offerings’ sounds more like merchandising, monetizing the member base. Great offers can still be value-add, of course. We’ll have to wait to see how this evolves in practice.