Tag Archives: first job

Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of US Airways

CEO Series: Doug Parker

Doug Parker
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: US Airways

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was as a bagger at a Kroger store in Michigan. I started part-time the day I turned 16, but then went full-time in the summer the day after school got out. I did basic bagger duties — bagging groceries, collecting carts from the parking lot, etc. While most people preferred to stay inside and bag, I was always quick to volunteer to get carts, as I preferred the more physical work. It was a good experience, primarily because it taught me a work ethic at an early age. It helped me see what life was like in the real world and gave me a true appreciation of the value of putting in an honest day’s work. I also learned that if you put the cookies on the bottom of the bag, customers get upset.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the industry was a financial analyst at American Airlines in 1986. I took this entry-level position straight out of business school in 1986. It was a great first job because American hired a lot of MBAs into finance, so it was both easy to get acclimated with other new hires and also a great place to learn the industry from a lot of talented professionals who had been in the business for a while. I also liked beginning in finance, because it allowed me to learn a little bit about the entire company and how it all fit together versus learning a lot about one certain area. That broad scope was helpful in allowing me to understand how the airline business worked in a relatively short period of time.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Three dollars an hour at Kroger and $34,000 at AA.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I have had a number of great bosses over my career and I learned a lot from each of them. If I had to choose a single mentor in our industry though, I’d pick a person I never worked for, Herb Kelleher of Southwest (Airlines). I, like many people, have admired how Herb has built Southwest to be a successful airline with a true team spirit and camaraderie that other airlines haven’t ever been able to accomplish. I like how he has done so by communicating with his employees and making sure not to take himself too seriously. Over the past seven or eight years, I’ve gotten to know Herb well through industry associations, and whenever we’re together, I work very hard to observe what he does and how he thinks about situations – it’s served me well and I’m thankful that he’s given me that opportunity

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I would tell them that this is a great industry because virtually every management discipline is important and valued. Marketing is important because it’s a customer service business; operations is obviously important because there is arguably no more complex a series of operating issues than at an airline; finance is important because the business is so capital intensive; maintenance is essentially a very complex manufacturing organization, etc., etc. As a result, I think we have areas for everyone to make a real difference, which is not true of most industries. So I always recommend that unless people really know what they want to do, they should start in an area where they can learn a little about the entire company and then over time gravitate to the area they find the most interesting. I also advise them that this business is not for the faint of heart; it’s very dynamic and a bit like a roller coaster ride — but if you like action, change and a lot of moving parts (like most of us here do), you’ll love it.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’m not sure since I’ve never worked outside of this industry, but my guess is I’d be doing something similar in a different industry. While I love airlines, I’m not the CEO because I know so much about this business — there are many people in our company who know much more about airlines and airplanes than I do. Most of what I do is find the best people I possibly can and make sure they are engaged and motivated and working together as a team to accomplish our collective objectives. It’s that team-building piece that I enjoy, and I imagine if I weren’t here, I’d be somewhere else where those skills were important.

Diane Brossart -Describes Her First Step In The Industry, 2008

Diane Brossart – Describes Her First Step In The Industry

Diane Brossart

President, Valley Forward Association

diane_brossart 2008

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My very first job was a part-time stint in high school at Jack in the Box. I learned to take people at their word. I was held up at gunpoint one afternoon when working the cash register and didn’t believe the perpetrator was serious. Another employee and I thought the guy was joking, so we refused to give him the money and chuckled at the idea of being robbed. It soon became apparent the heist was for real. I quit that job the next day.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job as a journalism graduate from Wayne State University was as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Gross Pointe Shores, Mich. I learned that no matter how thorough you think you are, you need to double and triple check your facts. In covering a political story that ran on the front page of the newspaper, I referenced one of the state’s legislators but mistakenly used his brother’s name. It turned out that both brothers held office, an honest error, but a major faux pas for a journalist.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I made minimum wage at Jack in the Box — a little over $2 an hour (I’m a dinosaur).
I turned down a trip to Europe with some of my college buddies to take the reporting job right out of school (big mistake) and earned about $10,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
After the journalism stint in Michigan, I moved to Phoenix and sold my soul (according to my journalism school friends) and went into public relations. I got a job as an account coordinator with one of the largest agencies in town (it no longer exists today). It was there that I met Bill Meek, president of WFC Public Relations and my biggest mentor. Bill was and still is a curmudgeon, but he’s a loveable one and among the smartest people I know. I used to sit across from him, on the other side of his expansive glass desk, and take notes as he pontificated on every subject under the sun. He’d peer at me with penetrating blue eyes that seemed to defy the bifocals, which rested at the end of his nose, creating an intimidating image that Bill undoubtedly enjoyed. I learned all about Arizona history and every issue of significance to the state, from water management and health care to transportation and economics. He taught me about politics, how to run a public affairs campaign and who the movers and shakers were that influenced decisions in our fast-growing region. He encouraged me to get involved in the community, and it was through his prodding that I joined Valley Forward Association in 1982, the environmental public interest organization that I later became president of and have now served for the past 17 years. Bill has played a huge role in my life and I continue to learn from him. We have lunch at least once a month, but he doesn’t intimidate anymore.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Be proactive, get experience (even if it means offering yourself for free as an intern) and follow your heart. Find something you like to do and it will never be work — it will become a passion and give you immense gratification.Always be nice and treat people with respect — you never know when you’ll need them on your side. Listen a lot and be open-minded. Network and build relationships. Articulate your goals, believe in yourself, work hard and always have fun.

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If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Probably consulting with the ultimate goal of supporting world travel. After 17 years of managing a nonprofit organization, I can’t see myself in the corporate world. As the years go by, it’s about balance for me. Professionally, I advocate for a balance between economic growth and environmental quality. Personally, I strive to work hard and make a difference while balancing a busy family and maintaining an active social life. If I weren’t doing this, I’d find another way to collect great memories.

West-MEC provides career and tech training

West-MEC Provides Career And Tech Training To West Valley Teens

Keeping with its goal of enhancing the education system in the West Valley, WESTMARC is a major proponent of West-MEC — the Western Maricopa Education Center District. West-MEC is a public school district that provides Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to more than 21,000 high school students in the West Valley. West-MEC was formed in 2002 after eight west side communities voted to form the Western Maricopa Education Center. Today, 12 districts and 39 high schools make up the West-MEC district. Not only is WESTMARC a business partner with the school district, but also, President and CEO Jeff Lundsford is on West-MEC’s governing board.

Greg Donovan, West-MEC superintendent, says combining efforts and expenditures allows West-MEC to offer students more than any one district could offer alone.

“Some career and technical education programs require a lot of very expensive equipment,” he says. “Individual districts may not have the space, money or expertise to offer such programs, so we help fund the programs and provide the necessary equipment.”

West-MEC programs include classroom instruction, laboratory instruction and work-based learning. Some of the career and technical education programs offered include business, finance, marketing, technical and trades, and health occupations. A school district works with local business and industry to build educational links to employment and continuing educational opportunities. Business leaders such as Mike McAfee, director of education for the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association (AADA), which represents and supports all new car dealers in the state, work with the school district. They help determine employment sectors to focus on the type of programs and equipment needed for training.

McAfee helped Peoria High School become the first high school in the West Valley to earn NATEF Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and offer a class that teaches brakes, steering suspension, electrical and engine performance. High school students in the West-MEC district can take the same automotive classes at Glendale Community College. Ford, GM and Chrysler provide new vehicles and equipment for the program at no cost to the college so students can train on new vehicles. Gateway Community College has the same type of partnership but with Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Kia.

“With more than 230 million cars and trucks on the road today, demand for highly skilled techs is going to continue,” McAfee says. “So when we employ students in their junior and senior years, we want them to continue their education.”

Experienced technicians typically earn between $30,000 and $60,000 annually in metropolitan areas. Incomes of more than $70,000 are not unusual for highly skilled, hard working master technicians, according to the AADA.

Stephanie Miller, a graduate of Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, wanted to explore a career in health care, so she took a two-part, CTE lab class during her senior year. When the class was over she was certified as a phlebotomist in Arizona. Miller’s certification landed her a job at Sun Health Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital, where she works as a part-time phlebotomist. She also attends Arizona State University and is taking classes to earn a degree in physical therapy.

“This is my first job and I make well over $10 an hour so I consider myself lucky,” Miller says.

Justin Rice, 19, a graduate of Centennial High School in Peoria, took automotive and medical CTE classes during his senior year. The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes were held at Glendale Community College. Since Rice was in high school, he did not have to pay the $800 tuition for the EMT classes.

“If I hadn’t had this opportunity, I would still be saving to take the classes today,” he says.

Rice now works as a part-time EMT for First Responders Inc., which provides medical support during Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns games, and for Little League games.

West-MEC opened a new cosmetology training center in July for students who attend high school in the West-MEC district. The 10,000-square-foot facility in Peoria is operated through a partnership between West-MEC and Gateway Community College’s Maricopa Skill Center. The center opened with 240 students and next year, enrollment will increase to 480 students, which is the center’s capacity. Students who complete the state-required minimum 1,600 hours of instruction will be eligible to take the state cosmetology board exam to become certified cosmetologists.

Chris Cook, West-MEC’s director of marketing and public relations, said the two-year cosmetology program costs $1,200 instead of $8,000 to $15,000 for the same program after high school.

A 2007 survey conducted by the National Accreditation Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences showed that owners of Arizona salons are hoping to hire more than 6,800 individuals this year.

“Students benefit greatly from these programs,” Cook says. “It’s a stepping stone to a career or post-secondary education.”