Keynote Speaker
Thomas Rajan

Navigating turbulence

Lessons from leading through a global pandemic at American Airlines
Thursday, Oct. 29 Location Code
10:00am-11:00am Virtual ThK/03

In this interview-style keynote, hear from Thomas Rajan, who is responsible for a cultural transformation focused on the people development and talent strategy at American Airlines. Rajan will share personal and professional lessons learned from navigating through a global pandemic.

The airline industry has endured sustained turbulence in an unpredictable landscape; it has seen revenues drop over 90 percent almost overnight and demand for future travel virtually evaporate. With no “return to normal” in sight, the airline had to adapt to the new environment to lay a foundation for what could come. Leading through periods of uncertainty requires more than being flexible and adaptable. Leaders cannot lose focus on what is most important: The people in their span of care. This may be easier said than done in some instances, but Rajan believes that the true mission of a leader is to continue to put people first even when revenues are down, and the future is unclear.

About Thomas Rajan

Thomas Rajan is the vice president, compensation and benefits for American Airlines. In this role, Rajan leads the design, execution and operations of all compensation, benefits and employee health programs in support of a global workforce powering the world's largest airline.

Prior to this role, Rajan held a variety of senior leadership and advisory roles in human capital and business functions, including most recently as the managing director, global learning for American, overseeing all people development and talent strategy. Prior to (re)joining American in 2017, he served as the senior vice president of strategic leadership development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Prior to his service at BGCA, he was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, serving clients worldwide on commercial planning strategy, operations and organization, and was one of the leaders of the human capital practice in North America.

Before joining McKinsey, he was the manager, network planning at US Airways, responsible for schedule planning and route optimization. He has also held roles in financial planning with The Boeing Company and customer service and operations with British Airways and America West Airlines. Rajan holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in finance, summa cum laude, from Arizona State University. He and his wife Keerthi live in the Dallas-Forth Worth area with their three sons and enjoy indulging each other in a shared love of movies, or playing and watching golf and soccer. 

Moderator: Meg McKee Brown

Meg McKee Brown is the vice president of human resources at Cambridge Air Solutions. She has a heart for unlocking and unleashing the potential of those around her. She holds a degree in environmental engineering from Northwestern University and has worked in manufacturing, environmental, construction, IT and consulting. Brown has spent more than fifteen years cultivating her expertise in building up people and organizations.

When she crossed paths with Cambridge Air Solutions, she fell in love with the company’s culture and formally joined the leadership team to continue strengthening and scaling their people systems. As vice president of human resources, Brown is responsible for all aspects of Cambridge’s employee experience. This includes talent lifecycle processes, executive, leadership and employee development, organization development and change enablement.