Turnaround Time: Uniting an Airline and Its Employees in the Friendly Skies (Hardcover)
Named a Best Business Book for 2023
Wall Street Journal Bestseller
Go behind the scenes with the CEO who led United Airlines’ remarkable turnaround.
Around the world and around the clock, the people of United Airlines are locked in a struggle against time to ensure your aircraft lands and takes off for another flight safely and efficiently. This “turnaround time” is the heartbeat of an industry in which the margin for error is nil and success is measured by fractions of a second.
Turning around an aircraft and turning around an airline are very different challenges in most respects, except one: it takes a united team to perform it well.
In 2015, when Oscar Munoz took the helm of this iconic brand, its culture was anything but united and its reputation was in free fall. A merger with its onetime rival Continental had stalled, operational and financial performance was badly trailing those of its competitors, and the bonds of trust with shareholders, customers, and employees had reached a breaking point.
Setting out an ambitious plan to rejuvenate the company, Oscar learned that there was nothing wrong at United that couldn’t be fixed by championing what was right—the employees themselves.
Meanwhile, only a month into the job, Oscar suffered a near-fatal heart attack that set in motion a race against the clock to find a heart transplant to save his life, even as he fought to salvage his vision for United’s revival. The health emergency might have been the end of the story—until employees and union leaders rallied around Oscar, inspiring him to pull through, something he did within weeks following a successful procedure.
Oscar and the people he led, both with new leases on life, would go on to weather more turbulence, overcoming battles with investors and navigating several PR crises—including a global pandemic—to deliver top-tier operational performance, strong returns to shareholders, and ascending levels of customer satisfaction. By the end of his tenure, the people of United were finally flying together as one team, defying pessimism from industry insiders and rekindling optimism from employees and the customers they served.
With candor, humor, and heartfelt wisdom, Oscar reveals how he rose from humble immigrant origins to lead United Airlines through one of modern business’s greatest corporate turnarounds. He offers soulful, much-needed leadership lessons for today’s world: listening with empathy, standing up for employees, building durable cultures that are profitable because they’re principled, and advancing a vision for a genuinely inclusive economy for the future.
About the Author
Oscar Munoz served as the CEO and chairman of United Airlines, previously holding several executive leadership positions at CSX, AT&T, US West, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. He serves on the board of directors of Salesforce, CBRE, TelevisaUnivision, and Archer Aviation; is a trustee of the University of Southern California ad the Brookings Institution; and is an independent trustee for Fidelity. He earned his bachelor’s degree the University of Southern California and an MBA from Pepperdine. To date, he remans the only person of Hispanic heritage to run a US airline.
“Oscar Munoz saved United Airlines. He wrote this book about the hard work, heart, and commitment of the people of the airline who wanted a leader to pull us together and fight for our shared future. Oscar healed deeply damaged morale on day one with a message of unity and hope, and I agree wholeheartedly with his recognition of my amazing colleagues. This is an incredibly inspiring story—and an instructional one for the kind of inclusive leadership we need to solve the biggest problems we face today.” — Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants–CWA, AFL-CIO
“Oscar Munoz shows the heart of a true leader in Turnaround Time, sharing how he overcame incredible challenges to revive the fortunes of a legendary airline. It’s a story about building a company culture based on values such as trust, empathy, humility, and authenticity, which can transform a business and the world.” — Marc Benioff, chair and CEO of Salesforce
“Oscar led United to new heights by starting from the inside out: investing first in frontline employees to empower them to better serve customers and earn their trust. His approach of listening, learning, and taking action is an inspirational lesson for leaders of our modern institutions who must earn stakeholder trust through bold action.” — Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman
“Oscar is the epitome of compassion and lives a life of triumph over adversity. He’s traveled the world and inspired so many people as a dynamic, charismatic, and empathetic leader. His passion for sharing his heart transplant story and raising awareness about the signs of heart disease have encouraged people to understand their own risk factors. The lessons and wisdom Oscar imparts remind us of what matters most.” — Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association
“In this compelling story of personal survival and corporate revival, Oscar Munoz poignantly reminds us that the most important leadership test remains as it’s ever been: uniting people behind a common mission. Oscar rallied the people of United with principles of leadership that are both timely and timeless.” — Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle Corporation
“The stories offer an intimate look at what it’s like to run a large corporation, and Munoz’s praise of his former employees makes a strong case that workers are central to a company’s success. This solid memoir delivers the goods.” — Publishers Weekly