Honorary degree citation - Gregg Saretsky
By: Anne-Marie Croteau, June 2014
Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. Gregg Saretsky, president and Chief Executive Officer of WestJet Airlines.
Gregg Saretsky is a leader in North American aviation, with a reputation for innovative management. For those familiar with his background, it is tempting to say he was destined for his current role - his parents worked for airlines, his two brothers are pilots and he married the daughter of a pilot.
There is no doubt that he is passionate about the airline industry. In fact, his career has spanned every role imaginable in the business. In 1985, Mr. Saretsky joined Canadian Airlines as a route development planner and rose through the ranks to the position of Vice-President, Airports, and Vice-President, Marketing.
He joined Alaska Airlines in 1998 as Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Planning. He also served as Executive Vice-President of Flight Operations and Marketing. Finally, he led the development of Alaska Airlines’ alliance strategy and forged new airline and tour operator partnerships.
Mr. Saretsky’s thorough knowledge of the industry prepared him to become president and CEO of WestJet less than a year after joining the company. In this position, he is responsible for the Calgary-based airline’s strategic direction and day-to-day operations.
For our students graduating today, Mr. Saretsky offers a wonderful example of collaborative leadership. He is known for his empathetic nature and remarkable ability to connect to people. It should come as no surprise then that he inspires a feeling of community among more than 9700 employees – or “WestJetters” as they’re affectionately known.
Né à Montréal d’une mère française et d’un père allemand, M. Saretsky grandit au Québec et en Colombie-Britannique. Il fréquente l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique, où il décroche un baccalauréat ès sciences en microbiologie ainsi qu’une maîtrise en administration des affaires. Un « globe-trotter » invétéré, il a déjà visité plus de 250 villes dans 34 pays et il tente de maîtriser le français et l'espagnol.
His inspiring leadership has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, Mr. Saretsky was named Alberta’s Business Person of the Year by Alberta Venture magazine. Last year, Canadian Business magazine named him top new CEO.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Gregg Saretsky, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.