Smith Students Travel to the UAE for Global Immersion Course
global airline industry is in the midst of a dramatic restructuring that involves
many airlines merging, cutting services and eliminating jobs. But during a recent
Global Immersion course in the United Arab Emirates, a Smith School student delegation
learned about an unconventional management approach being taken by Emirates Airlines.
Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines, explained to students that Emirates
is bucking the industry slump by building a positive workplace culture. This culture
fosters commitment to high quality service and meticulous planning that enables
Emirates to quickly seize new opportunities whenever they arise. “Our model is to
operate a high quality airline and brand, flying a fuel-efficient fleet, offering
travelers value across a global network through our hub,” Mr. Clark said. “We are
blessed at being able to fly non-stop to just about any point in the world from
our home,” Clark added.
With a fleet of 145 wide-bodied aircraft, and a new plane arriving roughly every
four weeks, Emirates currently flies to 101 destinations in six continents. In contrast
to today's modern fleet, Emirates started in 1985 with two planes that they leased
from a Pakistani airline. Emirates was seeded with $10 million from the Dubai government.
Since the first investment, the carrier has received no additional financial assistance
from the government of Dubai.
The company has grown at more than 20 percent a year since inception. Clark is
part of the original management team that created Emirates Airline in 1985. He's
spent the last 20 years, along with Sheik Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, turning the
carrier into a giant now capable of challenging the world's biggest airlines. Clark
is considered one of the most influential figures in the airline industry and he
has played a key role in making Emirates one of the fastest growing airlines in
the world, while earning more than 400 international awards for excellence.
The visit to Emirates was particularly relevant for Smith students as the airline
industry is one of the most examined industries in business schools. Students gained
unique access to senior level management at Emirates, including Divisional Senior
Vice President of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, Iain Lachlan, who provided a
tour of the Emirates Engineering Center. This center is one of the most technologically
advanced aircraft maintenance and engine test facilities and the largest A380 maintenance
facility in the world. The visit also included touring an A380, the world’s only
twin-deck, two-aisle airliner. Emirates was the first airline to place an order
for the A380, currently operating eight A380s, and has an order in for 54 more A380
aircrafts. In total Emirates currently has orders worth over US$ 58 billion for
170 of the latest aircrafts.
“The Emirates approach is about quickly seizing opportunities and solving problems
as they arise,” says Mark Wellman, Tyser Teaching Fellow in the management and organization
department, who led the student trip. “The Emirates personnel we met during our
visit were extremely impressive. We learned more about running an effective airline during our one day at Emirates
than we would learn reading a textbook for an entire year,” said Joey Maertens,
an undergraduate student who participated in the spring break global immersion course.
With business visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi the delegation of 41 students gained
first hand knowledge about the transformation of the UAE to a growing economic superpower
that is an important player in regional and international affairs. Additional visits
included Nakheel, DP World, Dubal, Ten Sports, Nasdaq Dubai, Dubai International
Finance Center, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, and Northrop Grumman.