The business on...Carolyn McCall, Chief executive, easyJet
Saturday 05 March 2011
Isn't that Stelios's mob?
Sir Stelios to you. And though he founded the business and still has a large holding, he stepped down from the management of the company years ago. Ms McCall has been in the hot seat since last summer when she succeeded Andy Harrison.
And how's it going?
Well, she's landed at a decent time in the cycle. Budget airlines suffered less than the big boys during the recession and even in the current environment, easyJet is doing ok. It said yesterday passenger numbers were up by 13 per cent in February, after a 19 per cent rise in January.
So she's got results quickly?
It's early days, but let's put it this way – the sniping that followed her appointment seems to have stopped.
Why was there sniping?
Well, it's just that Ms McCall had never been anywhere near an airline, at least in a professional capacity, before this job. She spent the whole of her career, prior to easyJet, at Guardian Media Group, which she ended up running.
But surely sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes?
Indeed. And one notable achievement of Ms McCall has been to calm the relationship between the management of easyJet and Sir Stelios, which had become pretty fractious. He has just publicly complained about easyJet's remuneration policy, but in the context of what it paid Mr Harrison before he left. Otherwise, the arguments have subsided.
What's she like?
Personally charming, professionally ruthless. On getting the top job at GMG she set out her stall by snubbing the internal candidate for her job. She was ambitious too – friends always expected her to leave GMG once a better job came up.
Well, she had to stand down as a non-executive director of Tesco after the supermarket fell out with The Guardian over a story it ran. And her pay at the media group raised a few eyebrows among journalists who thought it excessive. For now, though, she is flying high at easyJet.
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