BBA Stars

Gary Kelly

Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO at Southwest Airlines

Gary Kelly is Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO at Southwest Airlines. Gary is a 30-year Southwest veteran who began his career at Southwest Airlines as Controller, moving up to CFO and VP of Finance, then EVP and CFO, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in 2004. Gary became Chairman and President in 2008. Gary is a lifelong Texan and received a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.

Under Gary’s leadership, Southwest has grown to become the nation’s largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers carried and is a mainstay on Fortune magazine’s list of the most admired companies in the world, ranking seventh in 2016. Southwest Airlines is celebrating 43 years of consecutive profitability, and Gary’s biggest source of pride is the fact that Southwest Airlines has never had a single furlough in the airline’s 45-year history. Gary has pioneered the airline’s transformation through several key initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, and the launch of international destinations in 2014 for the first time in Southwest’s history.

Gary is married to his high school sweetheart, and they are the proud parents of two married daughters, who have given them their new favorite title—Grandparents to four beautiful girls.

“My time at The University of Texas taught me how to learn, and in addition to instilling in me a deep understanding of accounting principles and practices, it opened up my mind to see the bigger picture of the world around me.  That foundation has served me well throughout my career, both professionally and personally.”

BBA  1977
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