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Meet Kay Weatherford of Southwest Airlines

Kay Weatherford, Vice President, Revenue Management and Pricing
Southwest Airlines Co.

Tell us about your company.
Southwest Airlines has been in business for 46 years now and prides itself in exemplary Customer Service. We employ more than 50,000 people and serve over 100 million customers a year. During peak season, we have over 3,900 departures a day that travel to 98 different destinations.

My responsibility is to oversee Southwest Airlines’ low fares. I also am the Southwest Airlines Columbus Executive Engagement Leader which allows me to create meaningful connections with important community leaders. After being profitable 43 years in a row, Southwest Airlines is one of the most honored airlines in the world. We care deeply about our people and the communities they serve.

What motivated your organization to get involved with NAWBO?

Southwest Airlines loves supporting causes that matter most in the communities they serve. Southwest is dedicated to becoming Columbus’s hometown carrier. When you look at the success of NAWBO, it made sense for Southwest Airlines to join forces.

What does your company offer NAWBO members and why is this important to them?

Southwest Airlines offers NAWBO members more than 30 daily departures to 16 cities across the US, including some of the top business destinations. We also offer unmatched Customer Service, no change fees, and no bag fees for the first two pieces of checked luggage (size and weight limits apply).

Southwest Airlines has sponsored NAWBO for more than 5 years and supports their membership recruitment as well as provides giveaways at the monthly luncheon. We are also pleased to provide support as NAWBO Columbus hosts the NAWBO national convention.

Another offering is for emerging businesses to utilize SWABIZ, our FREE online corporate booking tool with access to all of Southwest Airlines fares and travel management tools including free reports for air, car, and hotel with no transaction fees. Knowing how much women business owners value their company and the people they serve, the airline is here to help emerging businesses as they grow and face challenges. In fact, Southwest Airlines was the 2013 American Brand Excellence award winner for best serving the travel needs of emerging businesses.

Southwest Airlines operates the largest fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. NAWBO members can bring their own WiFi equipped device onboard to have access to more than 20 channels of free, live TV as well as other entertainment options.

What is the one best practice you’ve learned from working with businesses in your company that our members should know?

Generally speaking, a lot of what people need to be successful in business are things learned in elementary school: communicate honestly and openly; listen; be accountable and responsible; seek to serve others before asking “what’s in it for me?” Southwest Airlines sums it up by focusing on delivering POSITIVELY OUTRAGEOUS SERVICE through everyday hospitality offered to their Customers and Community Partners.

Meet Mikaela Hunt, owner of Mikaela Media

I learned about NAWBO after moderating one of the luncheons a couple years ago when working for NBC4. Kelly Mooney from then- Resource Interactive was the speaker and it was a room full of girl bosses and positive energy. I loved it. Fast forward several years and I came to a luncheon as a new business owner in 2015. I knew I had to join such an impressive group of encouraging women. It's been an amazing experience. I am taking advantage of the round table and I'm in a group of open, helpful women that meet monthly with specific themes. This past month we talked about Expansion. I'm also a member of the Corporate Partners Committee. The Limited is one of the corporate partners I work closely with and it's been a lot of fun. On top of that, I'm fortunate to emcee the National Women's Business Conference that's coming to Columbus in September thanks to Kathy Warnick, a NAWBO member who is part of the national board.

Tell us about your business.

Mikaela Media is a brand journalism company. I help people tell authentic stories about their business through professional videos for their online and social media platforms. Along with a team of videographers, we focus on innovations that the business might have created, their unique culture, their philanthropic work, and whatever subject they want to focus on for a two minute video and two short "snack-able" videos for social media. Mikaela Media also offers social media management, social media audits, and consultations. We live in a world where content is king and you have to show the purpose behind your brand so customers and clients are better engaged with your products and services.

What inspired you to get into your business?

I worked in TV news for nearly 17 years, and I wasn't done telling stories when I left the anchor chair. There was a real lack of succinct storytelling from companies when I looked at their websites and social media platforms. There also wasn't a truly cost-effective way to produce videos for businesses on a regular basis. When I became familiar with the brand journalism concept, it was the perfect fit for me. I use my storytelling background and know-how to produce a video effectively and efficiently. Plus, I love social media and it goes hand-in-hand with quality storytelling. It's really important to share your story.

What are your three best practices or best tips that every NAWBO member needs to hear?

Read The Four Agreements and follow them.

Ask yourself: What 5 things would make my day great? And then design your work life and your personal life around that.

Be a thought leader in your industry. Start publishing on a platform like Medium.com or through LinkedIn publisher.

What does your future look like?

My first year in business has been a true blessing, so I'm working on scaling. I just moved into a co-working space off South Third Street downtown that belongs to another NAWBO member. One of my friends who is a rock star at PR has brought me in on several projects and I have a couple of other agencies I've worked closely with as well. I also directly contract with companies. I need some extra help to give clients the best service possible with that video production/social media focus. So it looks like I'll be hiring some sub-contractors sometime soon!

What do you do in your free time?

Free time can be hard to come by lately! On top of my business, I co-host Momcast with two other women in local media, Mindy Drayer and Stacy McKay. It's a podcast produced by Sunny 95 for moms and families and you can find us on iTunes!

I love to spend time with my little guys and husband-- the boys are 3 and 6. I also love to shop, try out the hot new restaurants in the city, have coffee with someone new, and a good glass of wine with girlfriends. Right now, I'm working on doing a little "Kon Mari" inside my house and a capsule wardrobe. You'll also catch me watching a little Real Housewives of New York City and House of Cards!

Jill Frey, inherits company and grows immensely

Jill Frey never expected to take over her parents’ industrial cleaning company. But her unforeseen and sudden elevation to president and owner of Cummins Facility Services didn’t stop her from growing it from its Marion County home to an enterprise with a reach spreading from the Midwest to the Southeast and western United States and Mexico.

In 1994, right after her graduation from the University of Toledo, Frey took the reins at Cummins when, much to her surprise, her parents called from Central America and asked her to assume control of their business.

While Frey began with only 15 employees and customers in Marion, Cummins now serves large corporations and organizations including L Brands, Greif, Ball Corp., Wal-Mart, OhioHealth and the University of Cincinnati.

Cummins has been growing at a 30 percent annual clip, boosted in part by a successful distribution agreement with ByoPlanet International of Sunrise, Florida, which produces an electrostatic disinfecting spray system for industrial and office work areas.

Q: What does Cummins Facility Services do?

A: We do cleaning of HVAC systems, snow removal, janitorial services, manufacturing and industrial services. We're 100 percent woman-owned. Right now we have more than 500 employees.

Q: How has the company grown, and what do you anticipate for the near future?

A: In June, we just got a contract with L Brands. In July, (we started) with the University of Cincinnati, and in August, we're starting two new accounts in Tennessee and Michigan with a Chrysler supplier. Our employees are entrepreneurs who just go out and take care of the business as if it were their own.

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