As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 75,000 global professionals that is building the world’s premier international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation.
Under Ed’s leadership, Delta is transforming the air travel experience with generational investments in technology, aircraft, airport facilities and, most importantly, Delta’s employees worldwide. A 23-year Delta veteran, Ed has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.
Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed has expanded Delta’s leading position as the world’s most reliable airline while growing its global footprint and enhancing the customer experience in the air and on the ground. During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the No. 1 airline by J.D. Power; 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.
In 2018, Fortune magazine named Ed among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. Most recently, Ed was awarded for his Executive Leadership in FlightGlobal’s 2021 Airline Strategy Awards and named among the Top 10 CEOs of 2021 in Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards as a leader who excelled at supporting their people throughout a global pandemic.
Ed’s values-based leadership propelled the airline to become the industry leader and a trusted global brand, guided by empathy, humanity and devotion to service, which has served Delta well in good times and bad. He has served as a Delta leader and steered the company through the most challenging periods of the company’s history, including 9/11, bankruptcy and COVID-19.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, Delta is leading the industry in the recovery, harnessing the power of innovation and Delta’s people-focused culture to set the course for the future of travel. This post-COVID transformation will reshape the customer experience using the latest technology and be powered by our people.
When asked to sum up his job in five words, Ed’s response is: “Taking care of our people.” The answer reflects his leadership philosophy, which is based on the “virtuous circle” – if you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, whose business and loyalty allow you to reward your investors.
Ed joined Delta in 1998 as V.P. – Finance and Controller and was promoted to S.V.P. in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer, and in 2007 he was appointed to serve as Delta’s President.
Before joining Delta, Ed held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Ed started his career with Price Waterhouse, where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.
Ed grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He lives in Atlanta and is deeply involved in his faith, family and community.
Lia is the author of UNSTUCK: Reframe Your Thinking to Free Yourself From the Patterns and People that Hold You Back, leaning into nearly 10 years of experience working in some of the largest and most influential companies in tech including Microsoft, Apple and Google to explore the power of reframing to overcome common challenges found in the modern workplace. She is a TEDx and SXSW speaker and has been a featured guest on WGN Chicago and WJLA Washington DC news. She was recognized by the National Diversity Council as a 2021 DEI Champion.
As an operations leader, speaker and coach, Lia is on a mission to humanize the workplace, one conversation at a time. Through her writing, leadership coaching and savvy program management skills, she brings an authentic and irreverent sense of humor to teams to help them examine the challenges holding them back and focus on what matters. She has built robust diversity & inclusion programs, launched the world’s first holographic computer, driven programs and initiatives around team inclusion and organizational effectiveness, and coaches people on how to drive impactful work and thrive working in tech. She is a thought leader in the future of work domain, and has been a contributor to FastCompany and Harvard Business Review.
Lia has a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in sociology, a Masters of Arts in media studies from the New College of California and is a Co-Active and ICF certified professional coach.
Richard P. Rumelt is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on strategy and management. McKinsey Quarterly described him as “strategy’s strategist” and “a giant in the field of strategy.” He is the author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, reviewed by the Financial Times as “the most interesting business book of 2011” and by Strategy + Business as “the year’s best and most original addition to the strategy bookshelf.” Dr. Rumelt received his doctoral degree from Harvard Business School and is the Harry and Elise Kunin Chair Emeritus at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His new book, The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists, is available from PublicAffairs on May 3, 2022.