United Airlines today appointed James T. Olson as senior vice president of Corporate Communications, bringing to the airline 25 years of public relations and employee engagement experience from several of the world’s most admired and innovative companies, including Starbucks, US Airways and Nissan.
He will join United on Feb. 1, reporting to Michael Bonds, executive vice president of Human Resources and Labor Relations.
“It was clear to us that Jim possesses the leadership, forward-thinking and global perspective to create the state-of-the-art communications capability necessary to help position United for the long runway of opportunity ahead of us,” said Bonds. “His combination of airline, consumer brand and digital experience will make Jim an immediate and impactful addition to United’s senior leadership team. We look forward to welcoming Jim aboard United and welcoming his family to Chicago.”
Olson currently serves as vice president Global Corporate Communications at Starbucks Coffee Company, Fortune’s 5th Most Admired Company, where he has led the company’s reputation-elevating corporate news agenda and brand protection capability since 2011. Additionally, he architected Starbucks’ next-generation digital news and employee storytelling platform, as well as orchestrated public affairs for the company’s Asia-Pacific and Latin Americaregions.
Prior to Starbucks, Olson was vice president Corporate Communications at US Airways, where he led the airline’s internal, external and crisis communications functions, which included managing the response to the 2009 Hudson River emergency water landing of Flight 1549. He spent most of the first decade of his career in the automotive industry, including seven years as a strategic communications and digital media consultant to Nissan North America.
“I am humbled and excited about joining United at this important and transformative moment in its journey,” said Olson. “As a storyteller at heart, I am looking forward to giving the world a window seat to the vision, customer experience innovations and employee teamwork that are accelerating one of the world’s most iconic airlines into the future.”
Olson earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Syracuse University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He has also served as a long-time board member of The LAGRANT Foundation, which is devoted to achieving greater diversity in the marketing and communications fields.
United Airlines and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 342 airports across six continents. In 2015, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 140 million customers. United is proud to have the world’s most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 20 new Boeing aircraft, including 737 NGs, 787s and 777s.