10 Things You Didn’t Know about Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

Gary Kelly is a well-respected figure in the business world who serves as the CEO of Southwest Airlines. He has been in said position since 2004, meaning that his policies have played an important role in enabling Southwest Airlines to carve out an impressive share of the air travel market in the United States. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Gary Kelly:

1. Gary Comes from Germanic

Gary is an excellent example of a name that has seen some rather interesting transformations over the course of its existence. In short, it is a personal name that comes from an English family name that comes from a Norman personal name. Moreover, the Norman personal name is believed to have been a shortened version of Germanic names that included the element ger, which means “spear.”

2. Kelly Has Multiple Origins

Meanwhile, Kelly is interesting in that it is a name with multiple origins. Sometimes, it is a patronymic. Other times, it is a toponymic. This isn’t helped by the fact that Kelly can be both English and Irish in origin, which muddles things even further because of the Anglicization of Irish names.

3. Born in San Antonio

Kelly was born in San Antonio. Of course, San Antonio is one of the most famous cities in the United States, which makes sense because it is one of the biggest cities in the United States as well. In fact, when one measures by population count, it is the second biggest of the cities that can be found in the whole of the southern United States.

4. Met His Wife Carol in Eighth Grade

It is interesting to note that Kelly has known his wife Carol for a very long time. After all, he met her when they were in the eighth grade. Later, they got married in 1976, with the result that they have two daughters together.

5. Studied at the University of Texas At Austin

Education-wise, Kelly went to the University of Texas at Austin, which is actually the flagship of the whole University of Texas system. There, he studied accounting, which explains much about why he eventually winded up becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

6. Did Some Auditing

Before he became part of Southwest Airlines, Kelly spent some time doing auditing, which is an important part of accounting. As a result, one of the main reasons that accounting documents are considered useful is that they represent the truth, meaning that auditing is critical for establishing that what they say is indeed the truth and nothing but the truth.

7. Joined Southwest Airlines as a Controller

Eventually, Kelly wound up at Southwest Airlines, where he worked as a controller. In short, a Controller is a managerial position responsible for overseeing the preparation of accounting documents as well as other accounting processes happening within an organization, meaning that it holds a great deal of responsibility. After all, those documents are going to end up being used by both internal and external stakeholders, many of whom will be counting on the information that they contain to make important decisions.

8. Became CFO

Within a matter of years, Kelly was the CFO of Southwest Airlines, which stands for the Chief Financial Officer. Accounting processes are overseen by the CFO, but ultimately, said position’s responsibilities extend to a wide range of other financial processes as well, with examples ranging from financial planning to the management of financial risks.

9. Has Made Southwest Airlines the Biggest U.S. Carrier for Domestic Passengers

Kelly’s time as the CEO of Southwest Airlines has seen him implementing a wide range of reforms meant to make it more and more competitive. On the whole, they have had a positive effect, as shown by the fact that Southwest Airlines is now the biggest U.S. carrier for domestic passengers, which is no mean accomplishment.

10. Introduced Profit-Sharing

One of Kelly’s reforms was the introduction of profit-sharing, which means sharing some of the corporation’s profits with its employees. This is a reflection of his belief that people should come first, which in more practical terms, means employees, customers, and then shareholders. On the whole, it is interesting approach that seems to have paid handsome dividends in a metaphorical sense.


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