Institutional Investor Magazine recently conducted surveys to identify America's Best CEOs and CFOs for 2008. The results told us what we already knew: Gary Kelly topped the list as the #1 CEO in the airline sector, and Laura Wright took top honors as the #1 CFO in the airline sector.
Most of you know Gary, but for those of you that don't know Laura, allow me to introduce you.
As CFO for Southwest Airlines, Laura is responsible for our overall finance activities including reporting, accounting, investor relations, treasury/tax, fleet planning, insurance, and Employee compensation and benefits. She reports directly to Gary and works with a team of more than 450 Employees to make sure that Southwest maintains its strong financial position and low-cost advantage.
Laura earned both a Bachelors and a Masters of Science in Accounting from the University of North Texas in 1982. Additionally, she is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Texas. Prior to joining Southwest, she was a Tax Manager with Arthur Young & Company in Dallas, Texas. Since 1988, when she became a part of the Southwest Family, she has held the positions of Director Corporate Taxation, Director Corporate Finance, Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, and Vice President Finance and Treasurer.
That's the technical stuff, but below are 19 interesting facts about Laura that we were able to dig up with the help of her Executive Assistant, Pam Liebrum (thanks, Pam!):
1. Her twin sister, Linda, is her best friend, and they had a double wedding.
2. She was born in Colorado, grew up in Nebraska, and finished high school in East Texas.
3. She won her class spelling bee almost every year, and usually won her grade level spelling bee. The only year she didn't win was in second grade–she misspelled the word "ribbon." (She's still mad about it!!) She was the County Spelling Bee Champion in the 8th grade.
4. She could stand on her head for hours as a kid. Literally, she was timed.
5. She worked as an Intern for Ernst & Whitney, and worked for Arthur Young after college - the same firm that our CEO, Gary Kelly, and COO, Mike Van de Ven, had previously worked for.
6. She played the flute when she was in school.
7. Her first car was a Ford Maverick.
8. Her first job was during high school in the bookkeeping department at a bank.
9. She talks to herself in the shower.
10. She runs on her toes.
11. She ran eight miles a day in college, regardless of the weather.
12. She played softball and was a star pitcher. She always made the All-star Team.
13. She graduated from the University of North Texas in only four and a half years with both her Bachelors and Masters degrees.
14. She was President of her sorority in college.
15. She passed all four parts of her CPA exam the first time she took it, her Junior year of college. (She hadn't even had all her accounting classes yet!)
16. She is a sports fan, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers are her favorite Team.
17. She is married to Randy and they have two children, Lindsay and Jeff.
18. She met her husband in college– he was a graduate student and a cost accounting teacher.
19. Her hobbies include traveling and spending time with her kids and family.
Congratulations to Gary and Laura – We're very fortunate to have such talented and respected Leaders!