April 27, 2021

Episode #42: C-Suite Unplugged: Ed Sims, President & CEO, WestJet

What is like to lead one of Western Canada’s most iconic companies through a pandemic?

Ed Sims, President & CEO of WestJet, is a long-time veteran of the airline industry, starting his career as a checking agent at Gatwick airport in the UK. On this episode, Ed shares stories from throughout his career that have shaped his experience and leadership ethos and how he approaches leadership. (Hint: if you’re on a WestJet flight in the future, you might be served your coffee by Ed himself.)

Today, Ed leads not only one of Alberta’s most notable brands—which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary—but one of the hardest hit companies because of the pandemic. As a result of shuttered borders, stay-at-home directives, and other travel restrictions, WestJet experienced a significant loss in its workforce, capacity, and number of guests. Through these considerable challenges, Ed has led the company with a laser focus on values-based leadership, humanity, and perspective.

Despite the ongoing challenges that COVID presents, Ed remains optimistic about the sector and bullish on the opportunities to recover and rebuild, especially those opportunities to transform the sector over the long term to improve the sustainability, affordability, and efficiency of the industry.

In This Episode:

  • Ed’s journey to the top job at WestJet
  • Ed’s leadership and professional ethos
  • What a day in the life looks like
  • Advice to future leaders
  • Current state of the company and industry
  • Response to federal support for industry
  • Challenges to operating an airline within Canada’s vast geography
  • Ed’s outlook on recovery trajectory
  • How Canada can compete globally—opportunities to transform in the industry
  • Optimism about WestJet and the future

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