Leah Koontz, Vice President Controller at Southwest Airlines.
Giving Back Magazine: What does a typical day look like for the Vice President Controller at Southwest Airlines?
Leah Koontz: The great thing about my area of the business at Southwest is that there are no typical days or routines; it really depends on what is going on at any given time for the business. As the Controller at Southwest, my areas of responsibility include all areas of Accounting (financial, revenue and operational), Payroll, Attendance and Leave and the Finance Center of Excellence. With any big strategic initiative set forth for the Company, my Teams will be involved, to help meet those goals.
For me, the best days are those that do not have many meetings, allowing me the opportunity to have more contact with the great folks who make my job so easy. I feel so fortunate in my role, leading a group of individuals who are so good at managing everything that comes their way, while always keeping me informed and smart on what is ahead for Southwest Airlines.
GBM: What was your journey prior to joining the Southwest Airlines Family?
LK: Wow, I cannot believe it will be 22 years this August. Time flies! (No pun intended). I was first introduced to Southwest Airlines when I was working at Ernst and Young as an Auditor – Southwest was my client. To this day, I still remember the distinct feeling of walking through the front doors at Southwest. The mood of the Company was different, and I knew I had found something special.
GBM: Tell us about your family.
LK: My husband and I have been married for eight years and are proud parents of two fur babies. We rescued our two Australian Shepherds from the show dog arena, in other words, they flunked out of show dog world. They are much better suited to be house dogs and receive lots of love from us.
GBM: Why is it important for a Company like Southwest to give back in the communities it serves?
LK: We have more than 46,000 Co-hearts at Southwest, who live and work in the communities we serve. Not only is it important for Southwest to win the hearts and minds of our communities, but for our local Employees to be able to have the opportunity to give back and make a difference in the cities they call home.
I am so proud of our recent work with Project for Public Spaces and the Balboa Park Conservancy. We were able to partner with these great organizations to implement our Heart of the Community grant, and after a year of planning, Plaza de Panama was transformed into a vibrant community space for park visitors to enjoy for years to come.
GBM: Beyond Southwest, how do you enjoy giving back?
LK: Currently, I serve on the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. This organization helps the most severely abused children in the Dallas Metroplex. With referrals from the Dallas Police Department, this organization provides counseling and therapy for these children, while collaborating with Child Protective Services to gain the best outcome for their future. I have been fortunate to serve as their Treasurer for two years; this year I serve as the Chair Elect and in 2016 I will Chair their Board.
GBM: What is your favorite Southwest story?
LK: There are just too many stories, but I would have to say Halloween is my favorite. One year we recreated the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We actually pulled guests in canoes and reenacted the scenes from the ride. Each year the whole department participates and has so much fun getting all dressed up. Halloween is just one example of the great comradery we have at Southwest Airlines.