Shawn Cole is vice president of Delta Cargo, responsible for ensuring that the airline’s logistics division continues to deliver on superior commercial, financial and operational performance. In his most recent role, Shawn served as Vice President – Financial Since joining Delta in 2008, Shawn has served as managing director in financial planning and as a division controller.
ACW: Before cargo, you were Vice President — Finance and Corporate Planning. What would I have to say to get you to lend me $10?
Cole: Tell me your track record. A great indicator of future success is past performance. In addition, I would want to know what you are going to use the $10 for and when I might get my money back.
ACW: After a decade at Delta, you’ve taken on cargo. Any surprises? What’s the learning curve been?
Cole: I have completely immersed myself in the cargo business, which has been a really fun and challenging learning curve. I am supported by a wonderful team of 1,800 cargo employees, who every day exhibit the true Delta spirit with seemingly limitless passion and energy to move the ball forwards and do the right thing for our customers.
ACW: How do you motivate your team?
Cole: I love to motivate my team. I am a high energy, positive person and the team knows that I have their back. My role is to ensure that they have the tools, technology and the confidence to go out there and solve problems for our customers. We celebrate the big and small, and we have fun.
ACW: What kind of people do you dislike?
Cole: I am a people person, so I don’t like people who dislike people.
ACW: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Cole: As funny as it sounds, I wanted to grow up and be a business leader. I grew up in Highpoint, North Carolina and the town is known for its furniture manufacturing. When I was a kid I toured one of the furniture factories and it was there that I decided that I would really like to lead a team and run a business.
ACW: Would you like your children to follow you into commercial aviation?
Cole: Absolutely, I would love for my two sons, Sterling (15) and Anderson (10) to follow me into working in aviation but they are only allowed to work at Delta or a joint venture partner! There are lots of opportunities with challenging and motivating work, where you are surrounded by great people all focused on providing industry-leading customer service and value across the business.
ACW: Coke or Pepsi?
Cole: Definitely Coca-Cola. It was my father’s favourite drink plus my wife and I both worked at Coca-Cola, so it is a family favourite.
ACW: BBQ or fine dining?
Cole: Both, I love a good meal but I do like to do a Carolina BBQ, which is vinegar-based.
ACW: If both a taxi and a limo were priced the exact same, which one would you choose?
Cole: Neither, I would choose a Lyft or Uber.
ACW: What would your autobiography be called?
Cole: The Optimistic Riddle Solver: The Life and Times of Shawn Cole.
ACW: Would you let us hook up your ‘Recently Played’ list on Spotify to the office speakers?
Cole: Absolutely. I am a runner, so I play a lot of different music. I like hip/hop, pop, R&B as well as Katy Perry, Drake and Michael Jackson.
ACW: You’re on death row, what would your last meal be?
Cole: I would make sure never to be on death row, but my favourite meal is a rib eye steak (cooked on my Big Green Egg BBQ) with Brussels sprouts and pancetta, accompanied by a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet.
ACW: What would I find in your fridge right now?
Cole: At home, the fridge has lots of fruit, salad, cheese and vegetables, alongside the staples of milk, orange juice and of course BBQ sauce!
ACW: What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
Cole: The best was my wife’s diamond engagement ring and the worst was a pair of trendy running shoes, which did not work well and gave me shin splints.