LESTER ROBINSON:
 




 
 
 
 
 
CEO, Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Appointed in 2000 to lead Michigan’s busiest airport through its period of greatest expansion, including massive new terminals, hotels, and shopping areas – and also during a period of massive financial upheaval among the airlines flying in and out of the airport. Previously, Robinson was a financial adviser, banker, and CPA. He was also Wayne County’s CFO and assistant airport director.


WHERE BORN: Decatur, Alabama.

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “I’d have to say my mother and father. This is probably something for me that evolved over time, but over time I have decided that the values they have taught me have been my foundation for doing everything that I do. If you’d have interviewed me 15 years ago I would have said someone like Martin Luther King, but today I say mom and dad.”

LAST BOOK READ: “The last novel I read was The Closers by Michael Connelly, a former L.A. Times reporter. The last business book was Leading Change by John Kotter.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “I like to keep a flexible and open-minded leadership style. I like to take in all the information before rendering a decision on any issue.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “Rapid change is what you could use to describe it. It’s basically become the norm for all of aviation in terms of competition between airlines and airports. You’ve got this new, low-cost carrier movement inside the business, and that competes with hub carriers. So the whole concept of the hub and spoke system vs. the direct service system is changing the whole industry. I think it’s going to shake out into a combination of both. If you look at carriers who start out with low cost service, they start out cherry picking routes where they can compete very well and have a great deal of demand. But eventually they try to feed a system. They won’t admit it but they’re running mini-hubs. Southwest Airlines is the best example.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “Laptop computer. I haven’t figured out how an IPod works yet.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “San Francisco, or almost anywhere in Michigan.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Gardening and golf.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Something in the seafood category.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I’d have to say that falls in the gardening category because most people wouldn’t expect that of me.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “I think I’d like to be remembered as the airport director who led Detroit Metro through some of its most challenging times, and through some of the greatest challenges aviation has ever faced, and led it successfully.”

At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.