The following blog post was written by Vikki Moore, a former participant in Southwest’s Emerging Leader Development Program (ELDP). Vikki is now a Customer Service Manager at San Diego International Airport.
In 2014, I started working a nine-to-five desk job after years in hotel management and quickly realized I missed the fast-paced and people-centric hospitality industry. A friend working for Southwest Airlines told me about the amazing Culture and a new Leadership development program, the Emerging Leader Development Program (ELDP), launching soon. I was immediately interested in the opportunity. The rotational experience would be a great way for someone like me, with no airline experience, to get exposure to the job and learn from the best Agents and Leaders in the industry.
A Career with Heart
In April 2015, I started my fun and rewarding career with Southwest in the 18-month ELDP program. I experienced three, six-month rotations working as a Customer Service, Operations, and Ramp Supervisor in Nashville, TN.
The rotations are fast-paced. I quickly learned that it’s okay not to be an expert in everything right away—know your resources, and ask for help when you need it. Working for an airline is truly a Team sport, and we need every Employee to make it a success!
Through my ELDP experience, I was able to learn from the talented People around me, ask questions, and soak up a 360-degree view of the operation. This holistic view of our operation
was further enhanced through Development Days at our Headquarters in Dallas, TX where we focused on Leadership development topics like coaching, delivering feedback, and creating an inclusive Culture.
At the conclusion of my time in ELDP in November 2016, I transitioned into a Customer Service Supervisor role back in my hometown of San Diego, CA. Shortly after, I was promoted to Manager of Command Center where I honed my strategic thinking and decision-making skills before transitioning to a Manager of Customer Service. I love being back in sunny San Diego and working with an amazing Team with so many growth opportunities. I continue to learn every day at Southwest and am happy I have found my forever Company!
Recently, I was ecstatic to hear we are continuing to invest in our local pipeline of Leaders through ELDP California*. This program is different from the traditional ELDP program because prospective candidates will apply to the location they will be training and working in as a Leader.
The first cities where we will offer ELDP California are Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; and San Jose, CA. Candidates are required to provide proof of local California residency.
Another differentiator for ELDP California is the 14-month program design which includes two, seven-month rotations in the Above the Wing Supervisor and Below the Wing Supervisor roles. Participants receive the same exposure to world-class Leadership development opportunities as traditional ELDP candidates.
I am honored to give back to this next generation of Leaders as a coach and mentor for the ELDP California program in San Diego. I know our Southwest Family in the other ELDP California locations feel the same and can’t wait to meet our newest Leaders!
*ELDP California is a 14-month job rotational program that seeks to train and develop excellent Frontline/Operational Leaders for Southwest Airlines. Participants are hired, trained, and placed in the host location they apply to (Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; San Jose, CA). The program requires frequent travel to Dallas, TX for Leadership training at our Headquarters. Upon successful completion of the program, Participants are placed in a Leadership role in their location, based on business need.