APEX in Profile: Janelle Anderson


Image: Janelle Anderson

Janelle Anderson
Vice-President, Global Marketing
American Airlines

Janelle leads all of American Airlines’ marketing efforts across advertising, brand, product development, promotions and sponsorships. Prior to joining the airline in March of this year, Anderson served as the vice-president of Shopper Marketing at PepsiCo, where she accrued 15 years of experience overseeing the cross-divisional marketing team for Frito-Lay, Pepsi Beverages and Quaker.

Location: DFW
Now watching: Billions
Years in the industry: Less than 1
Passport stamp you wish you had: Argentina
The future of flight will be: Magical

What’s your first travel memory?
My first travel memory is of my grandparents traveling all over the world, bringing me back dolls from vastly different cultures. I was so intrigued; I could not wait to begin traveling myself.  

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
After 15 years in CPG [Consumer Packaged Goods] with PepsiCo, the airline industry presented a wonderful new challenge, with an exciting, complex product. American Airlines offers an iconic brand to work with, along with a strong commitment to the front line, customer service and connecting people to the things that matter most to them.

What’s something that never ceases to amaze you about the industry?
The magic of getting on an airplane for a few hours or many hours and being able to get off and be immersed in a completely different culture.

What are some of the roadblocks to innovation and how can they be overcome?
Cost will continue to be an issue as we push to innovate. Because of the massive scale of American Airlines, even simple things increase costs, and while customers would love innovation, they don’t necessarily see the direct connection when they purchase a ticket.

What do you think is the most overlooked aspect of the passenger experience?
Personalization. We have a tremendous amount of data on each customer, but we do not personalize the experience or service to the level we could.  

“I believe in leading from every seat, that the best ideas can come from anyone on the team.”

What leadership model will you adopt in your new role?
I believe in leading from every seat, empowering both my team and the front line. My goal as a leader is to remove obstacles for the team. It is a servant leadership model with high expectations that the best ideas can come from anyone on the team.

What lessons are you bringing to American Airlines from your experiences at PepsiCo?
I am hopeful that I can bring a number of lessons from brand positioning to innovative, growth-driven thinking, and discipline in tracking and measuring results. Maybe most importantly, I hope my leadership training will inspire the team to be high-performing.

Do you have any crazy ideas to improve the passenger experience?
Many, but since I am so new, they are truly that – just crazy.  

What’s something that only a frequent flyer would understand?
Delays happen, but you always treat the front line politely. We all know it’s not their fault that the weather is bad.

If you could sit next to anyone on a plane, who would it be?
My nine-year-old daughter, Maya. It is so much fun to watch her experience travel, and I get very direct feedback about things that could change! 

“APEX in Profile: Janelle Anderson” was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.