Caroline McCall is early candidate for Leader of the Month

January 6, 2016

EasyJet’s Caroline McCall was appointed Dame in the New Year’s Honours list. Her latest honour is recognition for her services to industry as a business leader over a sparkling career

Most admired leader

Shortly before the award, McCall won recognition as ‘the most admired leader in Britain’.

According to the Telegraph [December 2 2015]:

The airline boss, who is one of just six female CEOs running a FTSE 100 company, is the first woman to secure the title in 25 years of the study, which is compiled by Management Today magazine.

“I hope that this will inspire more women, and that they will want to be in business and do it their way, be leaders of companies in their way,” said Ms McCall.

“Man or woman, it’s an honour to get an award like this. I’ve never underestimated how important it is to be a role model for women but I prefer to do that quietly rather than loudly.”

Easyjet and Earlier Achievements

Her new accolade draws on her success at building up the low-lost airline Easyjet, improving its customer services as well as profits. Her previous appointments have included CEO of the Guardian Media Group and membership of the boards of Tesco and the [then] Lloyds TSB.

LWD has followed her progress as a business leader in several earlier posts. A feature of her leadership style is considerable media skills. Listening to her in a radio interview in 2013 I was particularly impressed by a way of explaining her business without recourse to the business buzzwords that are written in to briefing documents by business schooled aides (OK, mea culpa on this one).

[Do send me your other nominations for January’s leader of the month. TR]

 

 

 


Ryan Air share price soars as its leader ‘gets cuddly’

July 29, 2015

Ryan Air and Easy Jet are considered innovative and successful low-cost airlines. This week, [July 28th 2015] commentators were quick to point to the excellent financial results and growth figures from Ryan Air, and to compare them with the relatively modest progress made by Easy Jet over the same period

Read the rest of this entry »


Caroline McCall puts clear air between Easy Jet and Ryanair

November 20, 2013

I heard CEO Carolyn McCall recently explain the near 100% rise in the share value of her company Easyjet

She was speaking on a round of the broadcast media [Nov 19th 2013]. Her explanation was that the company had retained its budget value for money while enhancing its customer-friendly reputation and attracting business traffic (although she did not use the old term ‘business class’}.

Compare and contrast

EasyJet’s success has been in part due to the problems of the legacy lines which have reduced routes, allowing its rivals to fill the gaps.

The interviewer wanted her to ‘compare and contrast’ with ‘rival’ firm Ryanair. McCall firmly but non-aggressively rejected the implication. She did not see Ryanair as the most direct market competitor. These are the legacy national airlines (British Airways as was; Lufthansa) as they compete on “the routes people like to travel on.”

Easyjet and Ryanair have similarities

Their success has been as low-cost carriers, examples of the peanut airlines. Both have in the last year moved towards scheduled seating, known to be a preference for customers, but earlier considered too expensive to implement. The change offers the prospects of widening their customer base to a market sector attracted to more than claims of rock-bottom prices.

Shareholder pressures at Easyjet

McCall has to deal with a powerful activist shareholder in controversial company founder, company founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou who holds 36.5% of shares and has repeatedly clashed with easyJet’s board over a strategy which he sees as risking shareholder dividends by buying new Airbus planes. “The directors have now accepted that more money has to be returned to the shareholders – if only they would accept that less cash should go to Airbus for more planes.” he was quoted as saying.

For McCall, attention to business efficiency may be sharpened by the influence of Sir Stelios, which is a very business school way of explaining the benefits of shareholder activism.

The change at Ryanair

The change at Ryanair follows recent share price turbulence. Michael O’Leary promises a culture change which will “Stop unnecessarily pissing people off.” O’Leary sought free publicity for years in his mock villain act, glorifying in the culture of low price at all costs with the scramble to board, tough baggage policy, and penalties for customer errors, as corporate profits soared. However, he was finding it hard to escape the old way of thinking, adding “Anything easyJet can do, we can do better and cheaper.”

Doth the lady protest too much?

A recent post in LWD examined the so-called peanut airlines. We suggested that the model pioneered by South West air was not to be found in the then profitable Ryanair. Its attention to customer service was too low on its strategic priorities. Easyjet fits the bill a little more.
McCall is right to attempt to differentiate Easyjet from Ryanair. However, the claim may conceal the point that both airlines are seeking to expand and compete in the same low cost markets.