By Scott Robbin
Mark Mitchell, Managing Director, Business Technology Services at American Airlines discusses his career path at the organization and how the potential partnership with US Airways will impact his role.
[Scott Robbin] You have had a very unique journey at American Airlines; can you tell us where you are now and how you got there?
[Mark Mitchell] A unique journey indeed and for me personally, very rewarding. I have been able to do a great deal of cool jobs at American over my 27+ years. And along that journey have met a lot of great people and established some strong relationships both personally and professionally. While most of my career has indeed been on the Customer Side of the business both in Staff and in our airports, I now get to help deliver new technology on our IT team. About 18 months ago, during our corporate restructuring, our IT leadership approached me about coming over and leading our modernization effort for our most important Customer Technology Platform, our PSS system. So here I am today, with the merger activity on the forefront, my mission has shifted a bit. If the merger goes through, then my team will be partnering with our US Airways colleagues to migrate the US systems and data over to the AA systems, pulling in a few US key systems and creating the Customer Technology environment for the new American. Pretty cool. And by the way, pretty complex and challenging.
“To me it is simple, build strong relationships.”
How has your customer care background prepared you for working in IT?
I think about this very simply. That is, with the background I was able to acquire at American, I am much better positioned now that I work in IT, to understand our deliverables through the eyes of our most important stakeholders, our employees and our customers.
What has been the biggest learning experience in your new role?
Great question. I have for sure learned a lot in the past 18 months. First of all, IT folks are really smart and really talented. But I think beyond that, IT systems are highly complex and it takes a great deal of coordination to ensure a successful delivery and a product that works efficiently and effectively for both our employees and our customers.
How has the potential merger had an impact on your role?
For sure it will have an impact. I touched on this briefly earlier, but to be clear, our primary role of our team is to deliver a modernized customer technology system that allows American the opportunity to achieve our cost, revenue and customer experience goals. The merger will drive a short term shift as we work with our US Airways colleagues in order to create a single system. That will take about 18 months to achieve, then back to modernization full steam. We recognize, we can’t stop our modernizing effort in total, so during our journey to migrate and integrate US Airways in to the new American, we are looking to pull forward a small handful of meaningful modernization efforts. Right now, all that work is in the planning stage, waiting for the final merger approval process to be completed.
What is the greatest piece of advice that you were given that helped impact your career?
To me it is simple, build strong relationships. Once you have the relationships and the people component on solid ground, those people can go off to design new products, execute great customer service, solve tough problems and many more things necessary for success in the business world. People first, it’s that simple.