They teach ethics in business school, but few executives ever face a moment of truth—a time when they must choose between deeply held ethical principles and calculated business practices. These are decisions that can profoundly impact the ethos of a company and the lives of its employees.
Gerard Arpey did. As CEO of American Airlines, he steadfastly resisted for nearly a decade the bankruptcy option that most U.S. carriers have used to solve financial issues. When confronted with the proverbial ultimatum from the airline's board, Arpey chose principle over popular practice and stepped away from a 30-year career with American.
Learn firsthand from Mr. Arpey's personal and professional insights on integrity and the tough choices leaders make every day.
Gerard J. Arpey is a partner in Emerald Creek Group, LLC, a private equity firm based in Houston.
From April 2003 through November 2011, Gerard Arpey served as chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American Airlines. From May 2004 through November 2011, he was also chairman of the AMR Board. Arpey led American Airlines—one of the world’s largest carriers, serving 250 cities in 40 countries—through the most tumultuous period in the history of the airline industry.
Arpey previously served as American’s president and chief operating officer, senior vice president of finance and planning, and chief financial officer. He joined the company in 1982 as a financial analyst, and was named a corporate officer in 1989.
Arpey earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1980 and an MBA in 1982, both from the University of Texas at Austin.
An avid pilot, Arpey holds a FAA Multi-Engine Instrument Pilot Rating.
Arpey serves on the board of directors of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (A Family Company). He is also a member of The Business Council, and he and his wife Lisa are involved in a variety of civic and charitable organizations.
Lisa and Gerard Arpey reside in Colleyville, Texas with their three children.