US Airways CEO Speaks at Thunderbird Commencement

May 3, 2013

US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker, a driving force behind the $11 billion American Airlines merger, delivered the keynote address this morning at Thunderbird’s spring 2013 commencement. When the merger goes through, Parker will be CEO of the world’s largest airline — the latest chapter in a remarkable story that began in Phoenix, Arizona, with a startup company called America West Airlines.

Parker became CEO at America West just 10 days before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He guided the company through the crisis and then through its 2005 merger with US Airways.

Today at Thunderbird he addressed 242 degree and certificate candidates from 11 programs representing 35 countries, telling them that in 27 years of business, the best advice he can offer is “Relationships matter.”

“Personal, human relationships really matter in the business world,” said Parker. “There is no way to figure out in advance which relationships are going to matter in the future, so you have to treat everybody the same way.”

Students graduating from Thunderbird this spring have accepted or been offered jobs at exceptional companies including, L’Oreal, Stant, Domino’s, Cisco, HIlti, Delphi, and GE Capital ECLP. The youngest candidate is 22-year-old Ji Chen ’13, a student in Thunderbird’s Master of Science in Global Management program. The oldest candidate is 65-year-old Jay Jacobsmuhlen ’13, a student in Thunderbird’s Online Global MBA program.

Read more about Parker’s speech here.

For more information, media can contact Virginia Mungovan at or (602) 978-7081.

About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird is the world’s No. 1-ranked school of international business, with nearly 70 years of experience in equipping global leaders with the business skills and global mindset necessary to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. For more about Thunderbird, visit