Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Rick, the Executive Coordinator for Dave, our CEO, who has one of the most discreet jobs at JetBlue.
Rick is the closest of our 14,000 crewmembers to Dave, our CEO. He serves as Dave’s backup brain, prioritizing the innumerable requests that come in for Dave. The position of Executive Coordinator is one that requires versatility and organization; someone who can wear multiple hats in style, often several at the same time, and Rick is that person. With a warm smile and a friendly demeanor, he is simultaneously fierce as he works through the heavy volume of inbound inquiries that come in for his boss, the Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue.
His position is not unlike a chess game. A lot of Rick’s job involves anticipating Dave’s interest level and acting with his sensibilities in mind. Does Dave want to attend this conference? Speak to this person? Visit this city/country? Should this message cross Dave’s desk or can he can handle himself? Dignitaries, celebrities, as well as customers and crewmembers call to speak with Dave, and Rick is the front line.
This is not a cookie cutter job that anyone can step in to; in addition to strong administrative and other skills, the position demands a high level of trust. Rick overhears lots of propriety and private information that he has to hold close to his chest. He admits that being tongue-tied can be a bummer at social events, but he values the very important vantage point that he’s in and takes the necessity of discretion very seriously. A large part of Rick’s success is also being observant and getting to know Dave. The longer they work together (five years and counting) and the more they get to know one another, the more Rick can accurately act with Dave’s best interests and preferences in mind. What is the right number of activities that he should schedule Dave for in a given day to make him most productive but not overtaxed?
As you might imagine, a CEO of an airline travels a lot and Rick serves as the center of gravity when Dave is out of the office. In 2010, for instance, to celebrate our 10th Anniversary, Dave traveled to all of our 65 cities (we’re up to 71 cities now), coordinating his travel arrangements and supporting him by undertaking tasks Dave might not be able to carry out in transit. Naturally, coordinating travel for Dave to Detroit for Tigers games is a scheduling priority.
“What’s nine-to-five?” Rick joked. “My work is never the same day in and day out.” Unlike some jobs that end when business hours do, the life of a CEO is non-stop and Rick’s workflow is defined by the leadership responsibilities of his boss, who has so many different tasks. Rick relays that the ability to be flexible is key to his success.
Dave and Rick consider one another thought-partners. Dave bounces ideas off of Rick and they collaborate together about how to proceed on any number of decisions. Dave, of course, is the CEO, and therefore responsible for teaming up with our other leaders to make the biggest decisions, but Rick’s voice is valued. Confused at first when Dave wouldn’t let Rick get him coffee, Rick soon learned that Dave was the kind of leader who was generous, kind, a good listener, and a genuine collaborator. “I love my job because I respect Dave so much,” he shared. “The job can be challenging but it’s also immensely rewarding. I am learning so much.”
How does one get to be the Executive Coordinator for a CEO of a large company? One option is to get invited into the secret society of personal assistants (don’t ask how, though; we don’t know!). Rick didn’t apply for the position, but rather was actually recruited to come work for us via a recommendation. He had no prior experience staffing an executive, but his strong organizational and communications skills, as well as his solid industry knowledge base from many years at American Airlines certainly positioned him well.
Inside scoop on the CEO of JetBlue? Rick is far too respectful to share any really embarrassing anectodes, but he did relay that Dave has quite a sweet tooth; some of his favorites are Chuckles jelly candies and cherry pie to accompany his afternoon tea. “Simple pleasures,” as Dave calls them! “You would never know considering his svelte physique!” Rick says.
Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet Chris, Lashonne and Jaclyn from Brand Design Jeff and Greg from Schedule Planning, Loretta in Security, Chris in Inflight, Morgan in Social Media, Don in Air Traffic System Control, and Mike in Ground Operations, and stay tuned for the next edition!