A Company in Love
A Conversation with Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines
By John David Mann
Colleen Barrett likes to say that her qualification for becoming the president of Southwest Airlines was that she was a legal secretary with an Associate’s degree. A native of Vermont, Colleen moved to Texas in 1967 and began working for a lawyer named Herb Kelleher in his San Antonio law firm—one of whose clients had started a little airline. After a series of brutal legal battles with a handful of other airlines, the little-engine-that-could airline emerged a bit bruised around the edges—and crystal clear on its purpose: they were going to be the airline that treated people right.
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