Former Vice President, United Airlines
Jimmy Samartzis leads companies through strategy, customer experience, and operations transformation. He is a Fortune 100 senior executive with a foundation in strategy and management consulting at a leading, global firm. Jimmy is a strategic innovator, change agent, and intrapreneur with a proven record in creating growth, reducing complexity and cost, improving competitive positioning, and driving consistency and quality execution.
Jimmy leverages his inspirational leadership style and customer-centricity to effectively lead large teams and companies through change. His leadership roles as chief experience officer, global operations executive, and general manager of business units with full P&L responsibility give Jimmy a unique enterprise view. Jimmy served as a senior executive at United Airlines where his roles had a direct impact on 148 million customers annually, operations in 388 cities in 49 countries, and 88,000 employees. Throughout his 10 years with the company, he led enterprise efforts that transformed the customer experience and global operations, achieving strong financial and operational results through quick, effective, and lasting change.
Jimmy was Vice President for Global Operations uniquely responsible for customer experience and operational execution for inflight dining with full $1.5 billion P&L ownership. He led the airline’s complete global dining transformation, the most significant in its history, and introduced industry-leading products that improved revenues, margin, and customer satisfaction. Jimmy oversaw United’s seven owned and operated food manufacturing facilities which also supported global airlines, grocers, and retailers. He led operational modernization efforts, drove quality and lean manufacturing improvements, strengthened food and operational safety, and introduced leading-edge data analytics and mobile technology. These efforts improved productivity, safety, production quality, and operational execution. Jimmy significantly enhanced catering operations worldwide by driving procurement and vendor management strategies that yielded reduction in costs, improved quality, and strong vendor partner and airport relationships.
Jimmy also served as Vice President for Customer Experience where he led enterprise change and transformation across the customer journey. He enhanced consumer insights and data analytics capability and technology, partnering with divisions to solve performance and competitive opportunities. He established an enterprise focus on hospitality, service, and people – resulting in a service model and culture change worldwide. Jimmy led the historic transformation of United’s clubs and lounges, and introduced the industry-leading Polaris Lounge. He established a customer-centric capability within the global network operations center, changing how the company managed through travel disruption events at the network, aircraft and individual levels. He led major improvements to the customer journey including launching mobile and web-based customer self-service technology, as well as employee mobile technology that enabled in the moment care of customers. Such efforts resulted in improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, revenue growth, and reduction in operational cost.
Previously at United, Jimmy was Senior Managing Director for Customer Service Excellence, Senior Managing Director for Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, Managing Director for Corporate Affairs, and Director of Integrated Planning. In these roles, Jimmy led initiatives supporting CEO and Board priorities with enterprise and industry impact. As an example, he led industry efforts in creating renewable energy for aviation and in reducing global industry CO2 emissions.
Earlier in his career, Jimmy was a leader in the Strategy and Transformation practice at Booz Allen Hamilton, a global management consulting firm where he spent seven years and developed a robust practice providing strategy, analytics, organizational development, process improvement, and transformation services to a diverse client base in health, aerospace and defense, and national security. Jimmy also worked for SRA International, The White House, and the Mayor of Chicago.
Jimmy currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the global leader in high-energy particular physics. He has held various industry leadership and board roles in aviation, travel and hospitality, and sustainability. Additionally, Jimmy serves on the boards of nonprofit organizations focused on youth development including Urban Initiatives and Junior Achievement, and currently serves as Chair, Sport for a Stronger Chicago.
Jimmy earned his M.B.A. from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, a M.A. from John Hopkins University, and an A.B. from the University of Chicago.