• Joe Breitfeller

WestJet Appoints Harry Taylor as Interim President and CEO, Jennifer Bue as Interim CFO

WestJet has appointed Harry Taylor as Interim Chief Executive Officer with the transition to take place between late November and mid-December 2021. The airline’s current CEO, Ed Sims, announced his retirement last June. Jennifer Bue will step in as Interim CFO.

WestJet's New Interim CEO, Harry Taylor - Courtesy WestJet

On Wednesday (September 15, 2021), the WestJet Group announced that appointment of Harry Taylor as interim Chief Executive Officer, with the transition taking place between late November and early December 2021. The airline’s current CEO, Ed Sims, announced his retirement on June 9, 2021. Harry Taylor joined WestJet in 2015 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Over the last six years, Mr. Taylor led the airline’s inaugural U.S. bond issue, negotiated the purchase of Boeing 787 Dreamliners and MAX aircraft, and was instrumental in the sale of WestJet to Onex. Throughout the pandemic, he led the company’s finance team in managing WestJet’s liquidity and ensure sustainability with little revenue coming in.

In Wednesday’s announcement, WestJet Group’s Chairman of the Board, Chris Burley, said,

“I am extremely pleased Harry has agreed to take on this interim role. Our global search for a permanent CEO continues, and on behalf of WestJet and the board, we are grateful Harry has stepped up to help us through this critical transition. Harry has been an integral part of our pandemic planning and recovery, and it is his painstaking attention to our finances and his unique perspective that helped us through. As we continue to navigate our way through the remainder of the pandemic, Harry's experience in the industry, combined with his deep appreciation and understanding of the WestJet culture will be a tremendous asset as we work to rebuild our airline and deliver on the five-year plan for our people and our guests.”

While Mr. Taylor serves as Interim CEO, WestJet’s current VP – Finance, Planning & Analysis, Jennifer Bue, will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Bue joined WestJet in 2008 and has served in various leadership roles in corporate planning, treasury, accounting and head of finance at WestJet subsidiary Swoop. Before joining WestJet, she worked at Deloitte and RBC in equity research. Jennifer Bue is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and holds a Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) and Bachelor of Commerce BComm) degrees.

Speaking on the airline’s interim executive leadership changes, WestJet’s Interim CEO, Harry Taylor, said,

“It is a tremendous honour to be asked to serve as interim CEO for the WestJet Group, and I look forward to leading our organization through this crucial phase of our recovery. There is much work to be done, while we continue our search for a permanent CEO. I am confident my experience as CFO through this crisis, combined with my tenure at WestJet, will set us up for success until such time as we welcome our new CEO. With my transition into my new role, I am delighted Jenn Bue has agreed to become our interim CFO. Jenn's knowledge and experience, combined with her invaluable leadership throughout the pandemic, will enable her to be a terrific leader as we continue to rebuild our airline and deliver on our growth strategy.”

Celebrating 25 years of service, WestJet has cut airfares for Canadians in half and increased the flying population around Canada by over 50 percent. The airline launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, and has now grown to more than 180 aircraft and 14,000 employees, offering service to 100 destinations in 23 countries (pre-pandemic). Even during these unprecedented times, the carrier has maintained their rating by Cirium as one of the top ten airlines for on-time performance in North America.

Source: WestJet