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Hernán Guaracao, CEO de AL DÍA, con Oscar Muñoz, CEO of United Airlines. 
Hernán Guaracao, CEO of AL DÍA, with Oscar Muñoz, CEO of United Airlines. 

'Profitable, Principled'

A motto from Oscar Muñoz, US Latino CEO of United Airlines.

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This past week I learned one secret for success from the `CEO of a large corporation in America— one that has experienced exponential growth over the past three years, largely because of his unique leadership style.

His name is Oscar Muñoz, current CEO of United Airlines — the third largest airline in the world, with 86,000 employees and a market capitalization of $21 billion.

Oscar is a descendant of immigrants, exactly like the rest of us.

Muñoz, as his last name was spelled out in Mexico by his ancestor, is now Munoz, losing the “ñ” in the immense space of his corporate universe.

For those senior Latino leaders listening to him last week at the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA), he was, again, our “Muñoz”— or, simply “Oscar”, as some of us naturally ended up calling him during a fireside chat conversation, as close as we felt listening to him.

“A company is most profitable when it is principled,” he said. In other words, principled practices generate the most profitable results in a corporation.

Profits follow Principles.

Philosophy supersedes Business.

Ethics guarantees Success.

It starts with the man at the helm, of course, whose ultimate responsibility is to set the direction North, to maneuver the moral compass for all to follow.

And it ends with the company’s accountant, who prepares the quarterly statements with the final profirt and loss figures— a sort of performance score reflecting the scrupulous standards set by the captain, in this case the man at the cockpit.

Oscar walks that high altitude flight deck, with 11,000 pilots under his command, with great confidence.

For him, as he puts it, his job is “just a platform to make the world better.”

Oscar was Fortune Magazine Person of the year in 2016, not long after surviving a heart attack and a heart transplant— before a miracle comeback 2 months later when the world saw a recovered and emboldened leader post 44% growth for United stock shortly after, beating other mega-carriers like Delta Airlines and American Airlines.

The secrets of success, I thought —after hearing Oscar speak for close to an hour about “Driving Innovation & Results”— are very much public.

“The climate for managements-by-values has never been more promising,” writes Daryl Travis.

Despite the discouraging headlines from our current national politics, our society is quietly but surely moving in a new direction in this information age.

Our millennials —half of them of Latino descent— will shape and refine these values and make them the foundation of our progress for many decades to come.

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