Regent Ayer’s BOLD Lesson

Regent Ayer’s BOLD Lesson

Published: October 29, 2013

The CEO Student Ambassadors of the Business & Organization Leadership Development (BOLD) program kicked off their season on Tuesday, October 22nd with a Leadership Lesson from Bill Ayer, chairman of Alaska Air Group, parent company of Alaska Airlines and sister carrier of Horizon Air. Bill also serves as a Regent of the University of Washington. More than 100 first year students, recent alumni, faculty and staff crowded in the North Creek Events Center eager to receive a Leadership Lesson on “Navigating Change with Alaska Air”. From the beginning, Ayer declared, “The only successful organizations are the ones who are adaptable to change.” This was an appropriate statement for the legacy airline that has successfully transformed itself multiple times in an era of turbulence.

Ayer emphasized a vital aspect of leadership includes planning and execution, though having flawless execution, according to Ayer, is the more important of the two. Flawless execution is all too familiar for the CEO Student Ambassadors of BOLD, who have thrived in delivering opportunities for UW Bothell undergrads to grow and network as leaders.

BOLD, the student-led organization designed by undergraduate students within the School of Business for all UW Bothell undergrads interested in leadership, continues to transform students' perspectives on leadership and engage them in learning about business from key business leaders like Regent Bill Ayer. UW Bothell Global Studies student Komal Qureshi says, “Through Bill Ayer’s leadership lesson, I was able to open my mind about the positive results that change can have within an organization when you ultimately get the right people on the bus.”

Ayer's leadership lesson was compelling, as well as interactive, engaging the audience with thoughtful questions. When addressing what makes a business successful, Ayer got to the heart of the matter by explaining the three essential P’s: People, Persistence, and Priorities. As a leader who has navigated change on many levels, Ayer’s point was not only to have people looking over your shoulder, but also to engage people at the heart of change.

The night concluded with a BOLD connection to Alaska Airlines. Jacob Woo, one of the Legacy 12 CEO Student Ambassadors, introduced his grandfather, Tada Yotsuuye, the longest tenured employee at Alaska Airlines to receive recognition for his dedicated work as a mechanic for 48 years. UW Bothell School of Business ELC undergraduate Cindy Bruner was recognized for her 28 years at Alaska Airlines along with Arlene Steele, Ticket Agent and mother of UW Bothell student Kelby Steele. All three employees spoke of Ayer with admiration for his leadership role at Alaska Air Group.

UW Bothell School of Business student, Alex Pourazari says this was his first event, but it won’t be his last.“I think BOLD is really great. I had the opportunity to meet somebody so influential in business, let alone in an industry I'm passionate about.” Pourazari added, “While it was educational, I was also able to network, and now I'm looking into internships I hadn't thought about before attending the BOLD event.”

In addressing change within an organization, Ayer states, “You don’t have to have a roadmap figured out, you just have to get there.” BOLD is helping undergraduate students do just that.

For more information, visit the University of Washington BOLD page.

Bill Ayer: Chairman of Alaska Air Group and Horizon Air