Dave Ridley retired from Southwest Airlines in January, 2015, after a twenty seven year career. During this period he served as a senior executive in a variety of operational, commercial, and staff functions including: SVP Chief Marketing Officer; SVP People and Leadership Development; SVP Business Development; and VP of Ground (Airport) Operations. Since 1998 he was a member of the Executive Committee, the CEO’s staff responsible for strategy and corporate policy.
During Dave’s years at Southwest (1988-2015), the Company grew from a $700 million in revenue regional airline flying to 26 U.S.cities to become the largest domestic airline in the United States with nearly $20B in revenue, now flying to 97 cities in 40 states, Mexico and the Caribbean. Southwest is the only airline in the world to post a profit every year for the past 43 years and it consistently ranks in Fortune’s Top 10 Most Admired Companies in the world. Its unique culture is well known and recognized as a reason why Southwest is generally regarded as one of the best corporations to work for in the world.
While retired from fulltime Southwest employment, Dave has retained an office at Southwest and serves as Senior Advisor to the CEO on a limited time basis. He oversees a number of companywide initiatives; represents the Company in select public forums; and mentors leaders throughout the organization. He also provides keynote speeches and consults with organizations across the world sharing lessons learned in his career at Southwest regarding building a world class brand based on service excellence, the type of leadership required to do so, and the importance of a healthy corporate culture in sustaining it.
A native Texan, Dave earned his BBA in the Honors Business Program at the University of Texas at Austin in 1975 and received his MBA at Southern Methodist University in 1981 while working fulltime. Prior to joining Southwest in 1988, he worked in marketing and business development capacities with several Dallas area companies.
Dave has enjoyed 34 years of undeserved good fortune as the husband of Mary Flo Ridley. They are the grateful parents of two married daughters and a recently married son as well as the grandparents of the four most beautiful granddaughters in the world. He’ll be happy to show you pictures to prove that fact. He is an avid/passionate/fanatical golf nut whose addiction thereto is perhaps superseded only by his love for ice cream. And, rest assured, despite what may look like a busy post-retirement plan, he plans to squeeze in much more golf and granddaughter time than he did when his calendar was a lot less of his own making.