Mercer’s 2017-2018 Executive Forum Continues with Delta Air Lines Executives Gil West, Joanne Smith


MACON/ATLANTA – Mercer University’s 2017-2018 Executive Forum, presented by BB&T, continues March 20-21 with presentations in Macon and Atlanta by Delta Air Lines executives Gil West and Joanne Smith.

West, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, will offer a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation on Tuesday for Executive Forum members and invited guests in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center on the Macon campus.

Smith, executive vice president and chief human resources officer, will offer a noon lunch presentation on Wednesday at the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta.

“We are thrilled to welcome representatives of Georgia’s premiere transportation company, which touches all of our business and personal lives,” said Dr. Susan P. Gilbert, dean of Mercer’s Stetson School of Business and Economics.

Gil WestWest leads the airline’s team that is responsible for safe, reliable operations across the globe, including more than 70,000 employees in airport customer service, cargo, corporate safety, security and compliance, Delta Connection, DAL Global Services, Delta Material Services, Delta Private Jets, fleet strategy and procurement, flight operations, in-flight service, operations analysis and performance, operations and customer center, supply chain management, and technical operations.

Previously, he served as senior vice president of airport customer service and technical operations, overseeing Delta’s airport operations, customer service, contracted services, workplace safety, and operational IT strategy, as well as maintenance activities, flight safety and regulatory compliance, and aircraft modifications.

Upon joining Delta in March 2008, West led the Delta and Northwest airport and customer service merger integration and helped champion customer service and operational improvements which have resulted in consistent annual ranking improvements from the Department of Transportation.

Previously, he worked for Laidlaw Transit Services as president and chief executive officer and also held leadership roles at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and The Boeing Company.

He attended North Carolina State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Additionally, he earned a Master of Business Administration from National University in San Diego.

Smith is responsible for preserving Delta’s unique culture of positive engagement with its more than 80,000 employees, overseeing talent management and development, recruitment, human resources service delivery, diversity and inclusion, and HR policies and programs.

Under her leadership, Delta was named one of the 2017 and 2018 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For and was the only airline on these lists, based on employee ratings of their workplace culture, including the pride they take in their jobs, the camaraderie they experience with co-workers, and level of trust they feel toward leaders.

She previously served as senior vice president for in-flight service, where she led a team of more than 20,000 flight attendants, supervisory and support personnel. In addition, she also oversaw the airline’s onboard product development and catering operations, which includes 154 kitchens across the globe supporting 3,100 flights per day.

Smith joined Delta in 2002 as vice president for marketing and customer service for Song, the airline’s former low-cost carrier. Prior to her current role, she also served as Delta’s vice president for marketing, where she managed the airline’s brand, worldwide marketing communications, marketing sponsorships, community affairs, customer research, and product and service development.

She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from California Polytechnic State University.

BB&T is celebrating its 11th consecutive year as presenting sponsor of the Executive Forum. This year’s co-sponsors include Southern Trust Insurance, Georgia CEO, Georgia Trend and The 1842 Inn.

The Executive Forum is a membership organization composed of businesses, organizations and individuals. Events are by invitation only to members. For more information on membership, call (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit

About the Executive Forum, presented by BB&T

The Executive Forum, presented by BB&T, is a business outreach program of Mercer University’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics and the Office of University Advancement. The Executive Forum provides business professionals with an opportunity to hear nationally noted speakers while networking with other business leaders. For more information, call Mercer’s Office of University Advancement at (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit