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STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/30/2012


A CEO's Last Stand

By John Dixon Mirisola ’11

On March 9, local senior business leaders joined Gordon College President Michael Lindsay in downtown Boston for the second event in the Conversations with the President series, featuring Gerard Arpey, former CEO of American Airlines.

Arpey had recently resigned as CEO of American, citing a moral opposition to the company’s decision to declare bankruptcy. “I had a strong view throughout my tenure as CEO,” Arpey said, “that a company, just like an individual, should do its absolute best to honor its commitments, and I was quite vocal about that as many of our competitors were restructuring in bankruptcy.”

Beyond this discussion, the conversation spanned a wide array of topics, from Arpey’s personal history in the airline business (beginning as a college student loading airplanes) to his rubric for evaluating staff, which Arpey’s colleagues dubbed “WIDE,” for the “wisdom, insight, drive and empathy” he looked for in each of his staff members.

As the conversation drew to a close, President Lindsay asked Mr. Arpey how his faith has influenced his leadership. Arpey responded that faith should infuse every aspect of a person’s life and decision-making. The WIDE criteria, for example, are secular ways of talking about Christian virtues.

“Anybody can make a prudent decision, or a temperate decision, or be just in a particular circumstance,” said Arpey, “but what you really want to do is become that kind of a person.”

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Gerard Arpey and President Lindsay