The Buckman file Featured

10:03am EDT December 22, 2004
Born: 1947, Kansas City, Kansas

First Job: My dad ran flourmills. My first job was loading 100-pound flour sacks into boxcars in the summertime. He taught me I'd better go get my education and find something else to do.

Career Moves: 1968, TWA, operations research group (sophomore in college). The day I started at TWA was the day that Howard Hughes left. Now, we've got some employees who are a lot younger, and I had a couple come up and ask me who Howard Hughes was. I don't say that anymore.

American Airlines, vice president sales; president, Sabre (11 years); Lifeco Services Corp., president (sold to American Express), stayed at American Express as executive vice president; CEO of Worldspan, 1995-1999; president, Homestore; WorldTravel BTI; chairman, TRX

Boards: Prior to WorldTravel BTI, held a seat on the Travelocity board of directors; NCR (Teradata) Transportation Advisory board; held positions on the boards of Travel Industry Association and the board and executive committee for Institute for Certified Travel Agents for several years; served on advisory boards for the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and the School of Business at the University of Texas.

Residence: Atlanta

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

Enthusiasm can certainly be influenced by your own. Unfortunately, the opposite -- call it pessimism and disengagement -- are equally as infectious. The good news is, the former doesn't cost any more than the latter, and you can have a lot more fun.

What is greatest biggest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?

Coming back from 9/11. It was a new world for me to work in. It was a lot of uncharted and uncertain waters. While I've been in the industry a long time, it was new people to work with, new customers to meet. Looking back, I was really pleased with the way we did things.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

That's a real difficult one. Like a lot of people, I feel like I've had the great fortune of working with and around interesting and talented and smart people. Hopefully, I've learned a little bit from each and every one of them.

If you force me to pick one, I would probably tell you it was Bob Crandall, former CEO and chairman of American Airlines, who I worked with and around for a number of years. In one person, (there was) the strong intellect, the attention to detail, the energy, the enormous sense of urgency and a commitment to the industry. He was really something to behold.