Jordan Hansell makes connections, sets a common vision at NetJets

Hansell says that’s the way it works with China, as you go through various levels of approval with multiple steps.

But one thing has been confirmed for him — when selecting a joint venture partner or partners in another part of the world, select well. Their understanding of the environment in which you’d like to do business and the regulatory authorities is immensely helpful.

NetJets relies on these companies for information; they aren’t just a name on a certificate so it can do business.

“I talked to one of them yesterday on the phone,” he says. “We speak regularly and we have shareholder meetings on a regular basis, and they’ve been quite active in the launch process.”

Forming one team

With such a geographically dispersed workforce, NetJets has to work even harder to hire, train and retain employees who fit the company’s vision.

As a high-touch service business, Hansell says the company first hires people who are inclined in that direction — and not just the employees on the front line who deal with the owners.

“Part of that is working to ensure that people who don’t have regular day-in and day-out interactions with our owners still feel what it’s like when we do well and we don’t do well,” he says.

In order to create a team that’s willing to subjugate its own personal interests for the success of the overall entity and its goal of satisfying its clients, NetJets is as transparent as possible.

“We want everybody to understand exactly how the business is performing and what our owners think of us with the latest information that we have,” Hansell says. “And so a big chunk of our task is to disseminate that information effectively so people can see it, and then to make ourselves available for any sorts of questions or comments or conversations that people may want to have about that.”

Along with giving employees information, NetJets’ management also makes sure they’re rewarded when they do what they are asked to do, and do it well. It uses a bonus system based on individual performance and meeting goals as well as a profit-sharing plan.

“We want people to take ownership over what they’re doing, to be accountable for it and to have buy-in into what we’re trying to achieve,” Hansell says. “And from our perspective, it’s OK if people don’t feel that way, but we don’t think then that they’re as good a fit, and we want people on the team who do feel that way.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Long-term strategic planning is essential.
  • The right partners enable expansion.
  • Create a team that puts company goals first.

 

The Hansell File:

Name: Jordan Hansell
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: NetJets Inc.

Born: Des Moines, Iowa
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University; master’s degree in public policy and law degree from the University of Michigan.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I sacked groceries in Dahl’s (Foods) grocery store in Des Moines, and learned not to put eggs on the bottom.

What is the best business advice you ever received? Think.

I got that from a woman who was the assistant to the Wake County chief executive. Wake County is in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, and the county government has an administrative head.

Instead of having her name placard on her desk, his assistant had a sign that just said, “Think,” and I’ve always remembered that.

So many people react before thinking, and so much of what we could do is better if we just spend a few moments reflecting.

If you weren’t a CEO, what is something you have always wanted to do? Anything that I could use to pay the mortgage.

Originally, I wanted to become a politician, which you can see from my education. I went into political science and then law, and then public policy. I went home to Iowa before coming to Columbus to ultimately work for NetJets, and I thought I wanted to run for office at some juncture.

I had that aspiration from a young age, but ultimately I thought I probably didn’t have the patience for it. I ended up being relatively results-oriented and logically driven, and those two things often are at odds with political give and take.

So I thought this was, perhaps, a better fit. Being in the business world, I thought we could actually make improvements in something, which would be more rewarding. And I think that’s been true.