Southwest Airlines Co. announced the promotion of Lauren Woods from Vice President of Technology to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, and she will report to Chief Administration & Communications Officer Linda Rutherford.
Since joining Southwest in 2010, Woods has led key initiatives across Southwest’s Technology Department, supporting the Company’s Digital and Customer Channels and various Operations Teams and Platforms. She established cloud infrastructure, creating a new development and delivery platform for complex application ecosystems. In her new role, Woods will play an important role in managing the airline’s technology investments, upgrades and system maintenance, totaling approximately $1.3 billion in 2023, alone. She is also heavily focused on the transformation of Southwest’s enterprise data platforms that drive the Company’s data science, analytics, optimization and system integrations. Woods graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management & Marketing.
Woods assumed this role following Kathleen Merrill’s decision in September 2022 to move to an Executive Advisor in early 2023. Merrill was instrumental in creating the Strategic Planning and Implementation Department, rolling out a new Rapid Rewards system, integrating Air Tran into Southwest and beginning to fly internationally, upgrading technology platforms from Sabre to Amadeus, and the Company’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I first want to thank Kathleen for her many and immeasurable contributions to Southwest Airlines for nearly 19 years, overseeing some of the industry’s largest and most historic technology projects. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the many positive ways Kathleen contributed to Southwest’s reputation as one of the most celebrated companies and we are grateful she will continue serving Southwest in her new role,” said Southwest Airlines President & CEO Bob Jordan. “Lauren’s vast experience has prepared her well for this important role, as she’s built a stellar reputation for being an innovative and transformational Leader in our Technology Department and throughout the Company.”