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We are proud of the successes of our Alumni and their contributions to a diverse range of businesses.

Ed Bastian

Breaking out of the hub
A former PwC partner helps Delta Air Lines thrive in a global marketplace.

Ed Bastian became Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines on May 2, 2016, after nearly 18 years with the airline. In his previous role as President, Bastian focused on leading Delta’s commercial and international functions and strengthening Delta’s financial foundation through innovation, debt reduction, revenue growth and bolstering the airline’s global network. In 2008, only three years after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, he spearheaded Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines to create the world’s largest airline.

After studying business at St. Bonaventure University, Bastian interned at PwC’s New York office in 1979; ten years later, he was an audit partner with the firm. Bastian credits his time at PwC with turning him on to accounting, which he calls the fundamental “language of business.”

“You start to see the common themes that run across industries,” he says, of working with financial statements. “It gives you confidence to deal with business challenges as you embark on them.”

After serving as vice president with both Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International, in 1998 he was tapped by Delta as vice president of finance and controller. As senior vice president, and then executive vice president and chief financial officer, he helped lead Delta through the industry-wide adjustments that followed the 2001 recession.

As a legacy carrier in the post-deregulation era, Delta has to play to its strengths. “We are a different brand than other airlines,” says Bastian. Chief among these is the airline’s sheer volume of routes. International business is key to its future - post-merger, Delta flies to 65 countries, with 40% of its revenue globally derived.

Bastian’s accounting background informs decisions that will help position Delta for success in the long run, including investments in mobile technologies and fuel-efficient next-generation jets. In an age of high fuel costs, staying in the black hangs on striking “the right balance between supply and capacity and seats and price points,” he says.

But in the end, a successful business strategy in the competitive airline industry goes beyond numbers. Bastian says that building Delta’s brand around customer service is key to the future. “All airlines have a lot in common,” he says. “We go to the same airports. We all buy our fuel from the same places. But it’s the service, and it’s the people who provide the service, that put a personality on the brand and will drive preference in the marketplace. And that’s what we try to reinforce.” An excellent philosophy for a global world, whether in Atlanta, Paris, Tokyo, or anywhere the company takes flight.

Contact us

Amy Paquette

Amy Paquette

US Alumni Network Manager, PwC US

Sallie Hinson

Sallie Hinson

US Alumni Network Manager, PwC US

Jennifer Belardi

Jennifer Belardi

US/MX Geography Marketing and Alumni Network Leader, PwC US

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