Davos Notebook

Hudson pilot tells business leaders to look beyond short-term

January 26, 2011

USA/The U.S. pilot who safely landed a plane carrying 155 passengers on the Hudson River urged political and business leaders in Davos to look beyond short-term results to deliver long-term benefits.

Chesley Sullenberger III, former U.S. Airways pilot, is speaking at the World Economic Forum, as chief executive of Safety Reliability Methods. His sessions “Leadership under Pressure” and “Exploring the Extremes” are both fully subscribed.

Sullenberger told Reuters on the sidelines of the Forum that leaders must be prepared personally and professionally and have integrity.

“I was telling my older daughter what integrity meant to me and I said it was about doing the right thing even if it’s not convenient. I might tell her now it’s having real values and choosing to live by them,” he said.

“Another important part of leadership is at least occasionally taking a longer view. It seems there’s so much emphasis these days on the short-term, whether it’s next quarter’s financial results or this quarter’s stock rise that would benefit us right now.”

Sullenberger said too short a focus would make people myopic.

“So it’s important we have the ability also to look at the long-term. That means we have to change the calculus of cost versus benefit. There are many things that may not pay off in the short term but if we make proper investments that would provide great benefits in the long term.”

In January 2009, Sullenberger safely steered a full Airbus A320 on to the Hudson River, after it struck a flock of birds, knocking out both engines, moments after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

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