Dimitrios Settos

How JetBlue’s CIO Showcased Leadership

With  more than ten years in sales and a passion for  following and learning from great marketing minds like Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, Olivia Cabane and many more,  in this post, Dimitrios shares the impact of one person impacted the perception of a company. 

Recently,  I traveled from Ft. Lauderdale to New York with JetBlue Airways.  In the middle of the flight, I noticed a well-dressed man who was working the aisle, picking up trash.  I was a little bit confused since he was not wearing the uniforms of the other staff. 

Shortly after seeing him complete ‘trash duty’, the lead flight attendant made an announcement to the full plane. She asked us to give a round of applause to the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of JetBlue, Eash Sundaram. (Note: his current title is Executive Vice President and Chief of Digital and Technology Office)  She said Mr. Sundaram  “always likes to give a hand to the crew” when he flies.

I had my answer. This Senior VP took the microphone a little later and introduced himself. He thanked the passengers for their trust and the crew for their hard work. To further show appreciation, the executive then raffled off two round trip flights. Not only did two passengers win, but also the crew members were rewarded. 

What made this event so remarkable, to me, is that we rarely see top level corporate executives directly in contact with end-consumers/customers or associates far down the corporate ladder.  Again, to me, this simple act was an amazing example of great leadership. Working shoulder on shoulder with crew members  and trying to understand their daily obstacles results in mutual trust, which many believe is the key to successful leadership. Coming face-to-face with customers gives a leader an understanding of their service, and what can be improved or rewarded.  

It was obvious that the crew members enjoyed their executive’s connection with them, and that the company’s atmosphere is absolutely positive.  It was refreshing to see the interaction and to witness the effect on the passengers, as well. You should believe that after that flight you, 120 passengers became brand ambassadors. 

At the end of the flight,  I asked Eash Sundaram if he was, indeed, the CIO of JetBlue.  I knew I wanted to share this story and wanted to be sure the title was correct. He answered: “When I go to work I leave my title at home”.  This is a person who relishes the role of connecting with the consumer and the staff.  I believe Jet Blue is a better company because they have executives with this mindset.