Chief Executive magazine today announced that Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, has been named 2023 Chief Executive of the Year by his peer CEOs.
Bastian was selected by an independent committee for his work leading the remarkable transformation of one of America’s most critical companies during an era of unprecedented crisis and volatility in his industry.
“Ed Bastian is a true exemplar of what it means to be a visionary, resilient, purpose-driven leader,” said Ken Frazier, former chair and CEO of Merck and our 2021 CEO of the Year, who served on this year’s selection committee. “Nearly all companies were required to make adjustments during the Covid-19 pandemic. Understanding that Delta Air Lines and its people needed to play a pivotal role at the very forefront of this global crisis, Ed confidently guided his organization through a period of unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty to deliver essential services for the benefit of us all.”
Said Fred Hassan, former chair, Bausch & Lomb; partner, Warburg Pincus, “Ed Bastian is the master of the virtuous cycle—good organizational health leads to good customer experience leads to superior and resilient financial performance. Ed epitomizes the role of servant leaders in transforming their organizations.” Full List of Past Winners >
A 25-year Delta veteran, Bastian is credited with transforming the company through generational investments in technology, aircraft and airport facilities. He has served as a Delta leader and steered the company and its 90,000 employees worldwide through the most challenging periods of its history, including 9/11, bankruptcy and Covid-19.
Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, the company has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named The Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; the top-ranking airline in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; the Platinum Award recipient for operational excellence by Cirium; among TIME100’s Most Influential Companies; a Glassdoor Best Place to Work; and more.
“I’m humbled by this incredible recognition and graciously accept on behalf of Delta’s global team of 90,000 worldwide,” said Bastian. “The resilience and strength they demonstrated through the most challenging time in our company’s history is nothing short of remarkable. Our people continue to set Delta apart, and it’s the greatest honor of my life to serve them.”
Said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America and Chief Executive’s 2020 CEO of the Year: “Ed leads one of the world’s great companies with an impressive combination of attention to the finest details, a global vision and strategic savvy. And Ed will tell you that Delta’s success more than anything comes from how his leadership team look after their teammates throughout the company.”
Said Ted Bililies, Ph.D., chief talent officer, managing director, AlixPartners, who serves as adviser to the 2023 Selection Committee: “Ed Bastian is truly a values-based, servant leader who has led through severe disruptions not only with resilience and grit but also with enormous compassion and cultural sensitivity toward all of Delta’s employees. His impact has been nothing less than transformational.”
Bastian’s selection as 2023 CEO of the Year is scheduled to be celebrated at an invitation-only event hosted by Chief Executive Group this fall.
About Chief Executive of the Year
Over the past 36 years, Chief Executive of the Year winners have been a who’s who of American business leadership, including Bill Gates, Brian Moynihan, Arne Sorenson, Michael Dell, A. G. Lafley, Marillyn Hewson, John Chambers, Bob Iger, Anne Mulcahy, Larry Bossidy, Andy Grove and Herb Kelleher, among others. The honor recognizes courageous, long-term executive leadership for shareholders and society. Full List of Past Winners >
About the 2023 Selection Committee
The Chief Executive of the Year was selected by a committee of distinguished peer CEOs. The 2023 committee consists of Marc Benioff (co-founder and CEO, Salesforce; 2022 CEO of the Year); Ken Frazier (former CEO, Merck; 2021 CEO of the Year); Brian Moynihan (chair and CEO, Bank of America; 2020 CEO of the Year), Marillyn Hewson (former chair and CEO, Lockheed Martin; 2018 CEO of the Year); Adam Aron (president and CEO, AMC Entertainment), Carmine Di Sibio (global chair and CEO, EY Global); Dan Glaser (president and CEO, Marsh & McLennan), Fred Hassan (former chair, Bausch & Lomb; partner, Warburg Pincus); Tamara Lundgren (president and CEO, Schnitzer Steel); Robert Nardelli (CEO, XLR-8); Tom Quinlan III (president and CEO, RR Donnelly); Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (president and CEO, The Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute). Ted Bililies, Ph.D., chief talent officer, managing director, AlixPartners, is the exclusive adviser to the 2023 Selection Committee.