April 28, 2020
8 insightful answers in less
than 8 minutes
Internet of Business’ IoB 8×8 Series is designed to reveal more about the people who have helped shape IoB’s live event and digital content over the years, picking the key industry brains who have dedicated
time to educating peers.
Jessica Tyler, President of Cargo & Vice President of Operations Innovation & Delivery at American Airlines delves into what innovation really means to the flagship airline, how to manage change within a 95-year-old company, and what reflections COVID has brought. We are honored Jessica can bring her expertise in supply chains and logistics to the BUILDING A DIGITIZED SUPPLY NETWORK THROUGH TECHNOLOGY, TRANSPARENCY & TALENT panel discussion at Supply Chain X.0 on May 26, 2021!
“Technology is often at the core of what we do, and if we optimize its capabilities— and arm our teams with the right tools— opportunities are endless for the team to continue to do what they do best. I’m looking forward to learning and sharing – it’s through this kind of event that we all keep growing!”
IoB: Can you describe your current role at American Airlines in a couple of sentences?
JT: My new role as President of Cargo and Vice President of Operations Innovation & Delivery is an exciting opportunity to lead the Cargo division, while also supporting all of our Operations groups as we continue to modernize and innovate our processes and technology. I support the commercial and operational aspects of our cargo organization and work with our team to strengthen strategic solutions that help customers grow their businesses. The operations innovation and delivery part of my role includes a team that looks strategically at how we’re supporting our team and delivering an exceptional customer experience. This team evaluates how we can run a more reliable and efficient airline, working across the entire operation to optimize the technology used by our team members on the front line. I work with some of the most talented and innovative thinkers in our industry. Together, we’re dedicated to giving our team members the tools they need to continue building the best customer experience possible.
IoB: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
JT: When I look at the team around me, I’m inspired by how strong and collaborative they are every single day. Over the past year, they used each challenge as a learning opportunity to adapt and move forward. This has made them the most versatile and nimble professionals in the business, and that’s an important trait to have given the unpredictable environment.
We’ve built a group that is passionate about the role we play in the world’s economy and in helping individuals and businesses thrive. They genuinely care about each other and serving our customers by forging deep relationships. It’s extremely rewarding to see the pride they take not only in the work they do, but the relationships they’ve built.
IoB: And, what is the most challenging?
JT: The challenge to any supply chain is that it’s beholden to decades-old practices in which information flows inefficiently. The cargo industry is one that is especially ripe for modernization and disruption. Each member of the supply chain tries to solve the same challenge — from the shipper, to the freight forwarder, to the land and air carriers, and others. Everyone wants more effective data accuracy, transparency and tracking, but they all have their own systems and utilities.
At American, we’ve made some incredible strides in streamlining these systems, including the implementation of our IBS iCargo system, which I’ll talk about later. With the implementation complete, we’re now focused on leveraging the capabilities of this platform to evolve and help our customers’ businesses succeed.
“Everyone wants more effective data accuracy, transparency and tracking, but they all have their own systems and utilities.”
IoB: What does innovation mean to you and how do you think American Airlines leads in it?
JT: To me, innovation means cultivating an environment in which team members are encouraged to be life-long learners. An innovative team member is someone who always displays curiosity, is eager to grow, and continually seeks to learn. By attracting these types of team members, American has created an environment where new and exciting ideas are fostered and developed. If an organization can create this type of workplace, talented team members feel valued, connected to the mission, and contribute in extraordinary ways.
Innovation also means listening and paying attention to the rising tide around you. Sticking solely to a five-year strategic plan is a thing of the past. The new norm is to align your purpose and the outcomes you seek, and then unleash talent to adapt, create and deliver. My career has allowed me to be part of a number of transformational efforts, and I feel grateful to work alongside team members that are thoughtful and strategic about the human part of transformation. Progress is fundamentally a human desire. It’s what energizes our team every single day.
IoB: How has technology changed your practices in recent years?
JT: Technology has been incredibly crucial in the way we better serve our customers’ needs and ensure our team has the tools they need to succeed. In fall 2019, we transitioned from using more than 90 systems — some of which were 40 years old — down to around 10 systems. Implementing these new systems and sunsetting the redundant ones was the most complex initiative I’ve led in my career, but it has been instrumental in enabling real transformation in the way we think about, lead and manage our business.
However, technology is only as good as the team that knows how to leverage it for our customers. We’re laser-focused on equipping our team and leaders to think differently through training, professional development, and making time to learn from each other. While we recognize that you can’t completely eliminate complexity, a well-prepared team that knows how to leverage technology can drive efficiency and allow us to provide a smooth customer experience.
“Innovation also means listening and paying attention to the rising tide around you. Sticking solely to a five-year strategic plan is a thing of the past. The new norm is to align your purpose and the outcomes you seek, and then unleash talent to adapt, create and deliver.”
IoB: What impact has technology-led change had on culture, and how does American Airlines approach change management?
JT: At American Airlines Cargo, we recognized early on that changing the way we approach our work was going to be more about shifting mindsets, than simply creating new processes and training. Modernization never ends. Our team continues to find ways to improve experiences for our team members and our customers, from improving the availability of accurate data throughout the journey to providing tools for our customers to self-serve makes it easy to do business with American. Finding and developing diverse talent and building a culture that is focused on optimizing the potential of each individual, a team, and ultimately the organization is the foundation of a good, thriving business.
IoB: How did the pandemic affect your role and business, and how have you tackled challenges it has thrown?
JT: Honestly, this pandemic has allowed us to put our greatest strengths to work in helping the world recover. In addition to the core purpose of our team — moving critical goods around the world that contribute to the economy and people’s lives — our strength as a team is that we are each other’s support system. That cultural strength has helped us all through this trying time. It’s allowed us to still produce incredible financial and operational results because we focused this strength on partnering more closely with each other and even deeper with our customers.
We have a proven history of working closely with our customers each day, allowing us to better understand their current needs. The pandemic has us leaning further in with our customers, focusing on strategic opportunities that help each of us grow and evolve as we serve the world.
“At American Airlines Cargo, we recognized early on that changing the way we approach our work was going to be more about shifting mindsets, than simply creating new processes and training.”
IoB: What do you hope to get from joining the Manufacturing & Supply Chain X.0 events?
JT: I’m looking forward to meeting with other industry leaders and thought leaders and learning from one another about innovation and improvement. For me specifically, I’m excited for the panel I’m participating in: “Building a digitized supply network through technology, transparency and talent.” I feel strongly in growing and investing in talent, cultivating growth, and leading with transparency. Technology is often at the core of what we do, and if we optimize its capabilities— and arm our teams with the right tools— opportunities are endless for the team to continue to do what they do best. I’m looking forward to learning and sharing – it’s through this kind of event that we all keep growing!
Jessica Tyler was named President of Cargo in June of 2020. Her role includes leading the teams responsible for the success of American’s cargo business, ranging from revenue generation to delivering consistent operational and customer service excellence for American’s cargo customers. In January of 2021, her role was expanded to include Operations Innovation & Delivery. With this added responsibility, she works with teams across Flight, Airports, Flight Service, Technical Operations and Safety to continue the modernization of critical technologies that team members use to deliver a consistent, reliable customer experience. Jessica most recently served as Vice President Airport Excellence, a combined role with President of Cargo where she led the teams across the airport and cargo organizations to support operational and customer service excellence.