James F. Parker of Southwest Airlines to Keynote NAHC Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida
August 24, 2016 03:50 PM
Val J. Halamandaris, President of NAHC is proud to announce that James F. Parker, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines has agreed to be the Opening Keynote Speaker at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Homecare and Hospice to be held at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, Florida on October 23-25.
"Jim Parker is the best there is in crisis management. He was at the helm during 9/11, which ranks high on the list of dark days for America. The fact that terrorists had used airplanes as bombs to accomplish their purpose made it all the worse. All businesses in America suffered but none more than the airlines. People were afraid to fly. It took awhile to reopen the airports, all of which were in lock down. But winning back public confidence was a more difficult matter. With a steady hand and unerring good judgment Parker guided Southwest through the crisis and back to prosperity -- all without having to fire a single employee. His advice and counsel will be very helpful to the homecare and hospice community, many of whom share the belief that they have been under attack," said Halamandaris.
Under Parker’s direction, Southwest became the largest domestic airline in the United States in terms of customer enplanements and won renown as a shining star of customer service, despite being a low-fare, low-cost airline. “The key was our people,” Parker explains in his book Do the Right Thing. “They were dedicated. They were spirited. They worked hard. They understood the mission of our company and believed in it. They made flying fun for our customers, and they had fun themselves. This was their company, and they were determined that it would succeed.”
One case in particular demonstrates the commitment to service at Southwest Airlines under Mr. Parker. An elderly woman flew in to Phoenix, Arizona to meet her son, who was driving from Tucson to pick her up at the airport. However, he was injured in a car crash so when the elderly woman landed in Phoenix, there was no one to take her to Tucson. A Southwest employee tried to book the elderly woman on a different airline to Tucson – Southwest did not fly there – but he could not find her a seat.
Instead, Parker says, the intrepid Southwest employee “just went to the employee parking lot, got his car, and drove her to Tucson,” which is about 100 miles away. It is a story that will resonate with home care and hospice workers, who know that going above and beyond is part of the job.
Parker started in the legal department of Southwest and rose to be general counsel of the company for 16 years before taking over as CEO in 2001, about three months before the 9/11 attacks. He rose to the corporate suite because he demonstrated an uncommon vision, which reflects the views of the Southwest founders. This mission might be paraphrased as follows: to create an airline that provides safe, highly reliable and timely transportation priced within reach of the average person offered by caring people who had fun in their jobs.
“Leaders who can create a sense of ownership and pride will have accomplished most of what they need to do as leaders,” says Parker. “They will have unleashed the pride, passion, and creativity of their employees. The rest will be easy.”
Parker, who is an author, a teacher and has served at prestigious institutions such as the MIT Sloan School of Managementand the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, and will share these lessons, which have major implications for homecare and hospice, in his speech. He will also sign his book "Do the Right Thing,” which captures the lessons Parker has learned in life and business.