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Southwest’s Kelleher and Barrett to lead off lecture series

by Carol Elliott, director of Newswriting, Mendoza College of Business

September 8, 2008


Herb Kelleher and Colleen C. Barrett of Southwest Airlines will be the first speakers of the Boardroom Insights lecture series hosted by the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Kelleher is the airline’s co-founder as well as its former president and chief executive officer who currently serves as the executive chairman of the board, while Barrett is the president emeritus. Both will be speaking during the lecture at 10:40 a.m. on Sept. 12 in Mendoza’s Jordan Auditorium.

Kelleher is renowned as an airline industry entrepreneur for founding Southwest in 1971 with a different philosophy than other air carriers. Kelleher and Texas businessman Rollin King based their operations on low fares and exemplary customer service. From the start, Southwest eliminated “frills” such as in-flight meals and flew out of secondary airports to avoid costly hubs. Kelleher also is well-known for his inspirational management style, which emphasizes some not-usual corporate qualities such as humility and gives employees broad decision-making powers.
 
Barrett stepped down from the position of Southwest president in July. Prior to joining the airline in 1978, she worked for several years as an executive assistant to Kelleher at his law firm. At Southwest, she held a number of executive positions before becoming president in 2001. Barrett has been recognized several times by Forbes and Fast Company magazine as one of the world’s most powerful women.

Today, Dallas-based Southwest flies about 104 million passengers a year to 64 U.S. cities – more than 3,400 flights per day. The company has posted a profit for 35 consecutive years.

Boardroom Insights lectures take place from Sept. 12 to Nov. 21 on selected Fridays at 10:40 a.m. in the Jordan Auditorium. The annual fall series features corporate leaders and senior executives sharing their perspectives on a broad range of critical issues in today’s business world.

The Boardroom Insights 2008 schedule is as follows:

Sept. 12:  Herb Kelleher and Colleen C. Barrett of Southwest Airlines  
Sept. 26:  George R. Oliver, president of Tyco Safety Products
Oct. 10:   Tim Andree, CEO of Dentsu America
Oct. 31:   Joan Payden, CEO of Payden & Rygel Investment Management
Nov. 7:    Greg and Vera Muzzillo, co-CEOs of Proforma
Nov. 14:  Dennis Nally, chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers
Nov. 21:  James E. Rohr, chairman and CEO of PNC Financial Services Group

The lectures will be followed by a question-and-answer period, and they are free and open to the public. More information is available on the Boardroom Insights Web site.

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