It would be hard to imagine Southwest Airlines now without the influence of Bob Jordan. He arrived as a 27-year-old computer programmer with little management ambition, but he has gone on to hold fifteen titles with the airline that has changed as much as Jordan has over the years.
When Jordan joined the company in 1988, Southwest was a scrappy underdog of an airline made resilient by several close calls with annihilation. Since then, its fleet and its workforce have grown nearly eight-and-a-half times. During these years, the numerous titles Jordan has held include corporate controller, vice president of technology, and chief commercial officer. In February 2022, the 61-year-old Jordan added another: Chief Executive Officer.
The newly minted CEO, however, has a lot of turbulence to deal with before his company can get back to flying in clear skies. The drastic drop in air travel that resulted from the spread of COVID-19 caused Southwest to post a $3.1 billion loss in 2020, breaking the Dallas-based airline's remarkable streak of 47 consecutive profitable years.
For many, Jordan is the ideal person to steer the airline back into the black. During his 34 years with Southwest, he's led some of the company’s biggest initiatives, including executive oversight for the development of the Southwest.com e-commerce platform, the revamp of the Rapid Rewards® loyalty program in 2011, and the 2017 switch to a new reservations system.
Additionally, during COVID-19 Jordan led company efforts around voluntary retirement and leave programs that were critical to avoiding pay cuts, layoffs, and furloughs, maintaining Southwest's impressive record of never having a single layoff in the airline's 50-year history. But his most significant accomplishment may have been serving as president of AirTran Airways for three years after Southwest announced a merger with the Orlando-based carrier in 2011. And so, technically speaking, Southwest won’t be the first airline Jordan has run.
Beyond Southwest, Jordan serves as chairman of the board of directors for The Container Store. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Southwestern Medical Foundation.
Jordan earned both a computer science degree and an MBA from Texas A&M. He is the recipient of both the Texas A&M University Computer Science Distinguished Former Student and the Mays Business School Outstanding Alumni awards.