Willie Wash, the CEO of International Airlines Group – the holding company of British Airways (BA) and Iberia – moves fast. He heads up a fast paced business – each year carrying 49 million humans all over the world in its fleet of 419 jets. Willie Walsh talks fast. He takes questions easily and answers them quickly, peppering his comments with facts, stats and detail. His to do list will cover everything from oil prices to volcanoes, from tourism to terrorism. And last night he entertained a packed room at Adam Street Club – offering a rare insight into the type of character that leads a global business that employs 56,000 people with revenues north of £14 billion.
There is a whiff of the Mourinho about Willie Walsh and he is not everyones cup of in-flight beverage. He acknowledges that taking the media flack comes with the territory. But in a world where everything is built for speed – a truly global business needs a CEO that is fast and Willie Wash, love him or hate him – does not have a slow setting.