Eash Sundaram of JetBlue on SimpliFlying Live Show: technology ventures, leadership and movies! #SimpliLive

Imagine that you wanted to be a movie maker. But your parents wanted you to grow up to be a doctor or engineer. You pursue engineering and become really good at what you do. How good? Good enough to end up leading all digital efforts at one of the most innovative airlines in the world. And start up a venture capital fund! That’s Eash Sundaram of JetBlue for you in a gist.

Eash Sundaram leads all digital and innovation efforts at JetBlue and most recently helped start JetBlue Technology Ventures.I first met Eash a couple of years ago when we were both speaking at the SITA IT Summit in Belgium. I enjoyed our chats there and couldn’t wait to have a deeper conversation with him.

I finally had the privilege of interviewing him on the SimpliFlying Live Show this week. JetBlue made a splash in the technology world last year by announcing the creation of a venture fund which would invest in early stage startups anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million. We dive deep into how this has worked out till date for JetBlue.

If you lead digital, eCommerce, mobile or innovation efforts in the travel industry, this interview is a must watch. If you’re looking to grow in your career, Eash’s advice regarding leadership and mentors is priceless.

Some questions I ask:

  1. What’s the story behind JetBlue Technology Ventures? [3:15]
  2. How was the team put together? [4:00]
  3. Why is JetBlue Technology Ventures not near the airline’s HQ in NY? [6:10]
  4. What are the metrics for success at JetBlue Technology Ventures? [16:23]
  5. What’s been the role of mentors in your career? [15:20]
  6. The Rapid Fire Round – where Eash tells me the first answer that comes to his mind [17:45]

In this episode you will learn:

  1. My first JetBlue experience (which didn’t involve a flight!) [00:50]
  2. How JetBlue inspires humanity? [1:15]
  3. How JetBlue harnesses ideas from outside the airline? [2:20]
  4. The unique journey of Bonnie Simi, the President of JetBlue Technology Ventures [5:20]
  5. The five core areas JetBlue Technology Ventures invests in [7:00]
  6. Why saying “No” to a startup is the hardest part [10:30]
  7. What Eash learned from his dad about leadership [12:32]
  8. How Eash went from a wannabe movie maker to an engineer [14:10]
  9. Why is Lagaan Eash’s favorite movie? [18:00]
  10. And much more…

Hope you enjoyed the conversation with Eash as much as I did. Who’d you like to see interviewed on the SimpliFlying Live Show next? Do share in comments or tweet us @simpliFlying.

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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