American Airlines VP Excels at Bringing People Together

Heather Garboden is responsible for the capital and operating budget, long-range financial planning, forecasting systems, and the corporate purchasing department for the largest airline in the world.

Garboden’s colleagues say she’s an outstanding leader with the ability to bring people together for successfully developing creative solutions that deliver results.

Garboden joined American West (which merged with US Airways, which ultimately merged with American) in 2003 in the revenue management section and has held various management roles in yield management and domestic and international pricing, the backbone to success at any airline.

Her career track record includes financial support and analysis for joint collective bargaining agreements that resulted in industry-leading compensation for American Airlines employees. She’s also managed over $1 billion in annual capital spend related to IT, aircraft reconfigurations, facilities, customer experience and marketing.

Earlier this year, she was promoted to American Airlines’ vice president of financial planning. Looking back at her career, she describes her first manager role as her biggest career leap, since it was a position on a new team. “It gave me the experience of managing a new group, which is something that has continued to happen throughout my career, even in my most recent role,” Garboden said.

In her professional affiliations, she’s an advocate for fellow female colleagues as a steering member of the Women’s Leadership Program. It’s designed to provide resources and learning opportunities for women looking to advance their careers. She’s also active with the company’s Do Crew employee volunteer program and has been involved with Junior Achievement, and Phoenix Suns Charities, an organization serving children and youth in Arizona.

Garboden’s guiding principles are work hard, have a good attitude, and learn from mistakes. “As long as I work at an airline, it will never be boring and there is always an interesting project or initiative to work on,” she said. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Villanova University.