Mobilizing Minds and Connecting People
Thursday, October 13 | 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Leadership is about mobilizing minds and connecting people. In the concluding keynote session, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, and Leocadia Zak, President of Agnes Scott College, will discuss inclusive leadership as it fosters innovation and shares productive examples of partnerships between industry and education.
As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 80,000 global professionals that is building the world’s premier international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation.
Under Ed’s leadership, Delta is transforming the air travel experience with generational investments in technology, aircraft, airport facilities and, most importantly, Delta’s employees worldwide. A 24-year Delta veteran, Ed has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.
Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed has expanded Delta’s leading position as the world’s most reliable airline while growing its global footprint and enhancing the customer experience in the air and on the ground. During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; the top-ranking airline in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; the Platinum Award recipient for operational excellence by Cirium; among TIME100’s Most Influential Companies; a Glassdoor Best Place to Work; and more.
In 2018, Fortune magazine named Ed among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. Most recently, Ed was awarded for his Executive Leadership in FlightGlobal’s 2021 Airline Strategy Awards and named among the Top 10 CEOs of 2021 in Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards as a leader who excelled at supporting their people throughout a global pandemic.
Ed’s values-based leadership propelled the airline to become the industry leader and a trusted global brand, guided by empathy, humanity and devotion to service, which has served Delta well in good times and bad. He has served as a Delta leader and steered the company through the most challenging periods of the company’s history, including 9/11, bankruptcy and COVID-19.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, Delta is leading the industry in the recovery, harnessing the power of innovation and Delta’s people-focused culture to set the course for the future of travel. This post-COVID transformation will reshape the customer experience using the latest technology and be powered by our people.
When asked to sum up his job in five words, Ed’s response is: “Taking care of our people.” The answer reflects his leadership philosophy, which is based on the “virtuous circle” – if you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, whose business and loyalty allow you to reward your investors.
Ed joined Delta in 1998 as V.P. – Finance and Controller and was promoted to S.V.P. in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer, and in 2007 he was appointed to serve as Delta’s President.
Before joining Delta, Ed held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Ed started his career with Price Waterhouse, where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.
Ed grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He lives in Atlanta and is deeply involved in his faith, family and community.
Follow Ed on LinkedIn and Instagram for his thoughts on leadership, culture, aviation and more.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mount Holyoke College, which recognized her as a Woman of Influence in 2012, she holds a JD degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
During Zak’s tenure, Agnes Scott has achieved record enrollment and fundraising, launched graduate programs and been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for innovation, teaching, first-year experience and social mobility. The college has continued to build its unique SUMMIT experience by adding signature components for professional success in the junior and senior years. The Sophomore Class Atlanta Leadership Experience (SCALE) provides a weeklong experience in a corporate or non-profit organization, while Applied Career Experiences (ACE), a one-week, one-credit course, gives students an opportunity to make professional connections with community partners.
With her appointment of the college’s first vice president for equity and inclusion, who now oversees the Office of People and Culture, Agnes Scott has further strengthened its commitment to community and to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. The college was designated as a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and launched its first JEDI annual plan in 2020.
Under Zak’s leadership, Agnes Scott developed a strategic plan, Pathway to Success, that will guide the college through 2026. Core themes of the plan are providing a transformative education, ensuring student success, building a culture of community and engaging the world beyond the campus. As president, she has also focused on improving the operational efficiency of the college and securing its financial future.
Zak is the immediate past board chair of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE) and serves on the American Council on Education (ACE) Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Georgia Independent College Association. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, International Women’s Forum (IWF) and the Truist Atlanta Advisory Council. In addition, she serves on the Metro Atlanta Chamber Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board (IEAB) and is a trustee of Global Communities: Partners for Good, an international non-profit organization.
With an extensive background in international economic development and international project finance, in 2010, Zak was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. USTDA is an independent federal agency that advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries.
Before joining the public sector, Zak was a partner at the international law firm Mintz Levin, where she practiced international and domestic project finance in the Boston and Washington, D.C., offices.
Zak has taught international project finance as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center and Boston University School of Law.