Al Comeaux

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Al Comeaux

Former VP of Travelocity; Change Champion at GE and American Airlines

Al Comeaux shares how we must think differently to (finally) succeed at change.

Al Comeaux Profile Photo

Comeaux has held senior leadership positions championing vast strategic changes, including an IPO, reaction to a hostile takeover, a take-private/leveraged buyout, digital transformations, two startups inside large corporations, massive globalization, two 40 percent layoffs, as well as three CEO transitions, countless other executive transitions, four nationwide strikes, and too many other changes to count.

After helping lead a terribly unsuccessful change effort in the late 90s, he set out to understand why some organizations’ change efforts succeed, while most fail. This research and in-house experience make him one of the world’s most forward thinkers on what leaders must do—and how they must think—to succeed at change. Now, after this 20-year journey, he’s developed Primed for Change, a disruptive new project created to prepare leaders to steer their organizations successfully through change.

In 2020, Comeaux released his debut book, Change (the) Management: Why We as Leaders Must Change for the Change to Last, which draws on his decades of experience in-seat as a change champion and senior executive, as well as his years of research on the subject of organizational change. With well-told stories that illustrate the need for this fundamentally new way of thinking, this book finally speaks straight to senior executives who need to re-think how they manage change…and even how they lead every day.

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Al Comeaux’s Speech Topics

  • Think Anew: Think Differently to Drive Change

    Executives tend to focus on tactical excellence during change. Project management. Finance-related decisions. Technology choices. These things are important. But most change efforts fail. In this engaging keynote, Comeaux brings his 30+ years in-seat as a corporate executive at noted companies such as American Airlines, GE and Travelocity, plus more than two decades researching successful and unsuccessful change initiatives to put our focus as executives on the one thing he’s found will beat us at change: our people. If our people don’t change, our organization doesn’t change. And our people don’t have to change. With that in mind, Comeaux breaks out five different types of people and how we have to think about them during change. And he explains how the most important work we do is before we execute, by getting our people primed for the change. Because—as he’s seen from living, leading, and researching change—all the king’s project management and all the king’s technology prowess won’t buy us much if our people don’t want to change.

  • The Changing Future of Travel

    If there’s one industry that sees greater change than any other—while changing how we see the world—it’s the travel industry. Al Comeaux is (likely) the only person in the world who has served as an executive at a travel supplier (American Airlines), travel agent (Travelocity), travel distributor (Sabre), travel technology provider (Sabre), and a manufacturer serving the travel industry (GE Aviation). He launched the oneworld alliance and disrupted the century-old travel agency business, among other achievements.

    This gives him a unique view of the industry. Having seen from different angles how the industry has responded and changed as a result of numerous threats (wars, terrorism, pandemics, technology like the internet), he has a unique outlook on the short and long views of the industry. He’s also an avid and passionate traveler, having visited some 45 countries on six continents, so he also keeps up on the latest ins-and-outs of what travelers can expect as things change.

    As the travel industry now looks to recover from the global COVID pandemic, Comeaux offers a well-informed and engaging look at the future of travel, and how it ties to the future of work as well as the future of our lives.

  • Welcome Back From the Pandemic. Now What?

    As businesses grapple with the post-pandemic world—how to compete for business and employees while grappling with decisions about office space, employee autonomy, even whether to add remote people of all flavors—we have to take a step back and ask ourselves: What’s it going to take to succeed in such a blurry world? And once we’ve decided on a direction, how do we as leaders ensure this new way succeeds and keeps us competitive?

    Al Comeaux is perhaps the best positioned person in the world to help ground us in what’s needed. His 20 years of leading change—he’s had to flip business models overnight and led changes during a hostile takeover, an IPO, a leveraged buyout, rapid massive globalization, and so much more…all kinds of uncharted territory—this grounds him in the kind of thinking we need as we take on a whole new future. In this keynote, Al also brings science and data from his decades researching change, as well as fantastic stories that underscore his points. It’s a fast-paced, energizing yet deep talk that will challenge all of us to be better leaders so our organizations flourish—not flatline—through these uncharted times…and always.

  • The 4 Ways to Win the Change

    Given the estimated $3 trillion spent – and $2 trillion wasted – on organizational change efforts each year, how can leaders think about change differently? What do leaders at companies that win at change do vs the unsuccessful ones? In this signature keynote, Comeaux finally brings an insider’s view, sharing how winning companies don’t try to get their people to change…they get their people to want to change. From getting our own hands dirty as leaders, to pulling our people through the change, and understanding the invaluable role that listening and modeling play, Comeaux lays out how leaders can win their change efforts. Drawing on his vast experience of living, leading, and researching change from the inside during a 30+ year career as an executive at disruptive companies like Travelocity and large, established companies like GE and American Airlines, and through scientific research and storytelling, Comeaux weaves together a compelling and practical case for a new way of looking at organizational change that is sure to reset leaders’ mindsets about change and set them up for success.

  • Leading Change During an Inflection Point

    Global forces and technology are both driving the need for change in our organizations…and the need for change only becomes greater, faster with each new technology, each global macrotrend or event. We see it in how we and our people work each day, how we communicate with each other, and so many other ways. So, how do we change our organizations to keep up with these forces and the demands they drive? How do we take advantage of these events, macrotrends and technologies without losing our people—the very ingredient we need to be successful in these times. In this keynote, Al brings to life the formula for successful change: The irony that leaders must focus on inputs, not outcomes, in order to achieve the desired outcomes. The need for leaders to walk-the-change-talk. The need for leaders to listen to their people, whose ideas are likely to be more robust, and more grounded in reality. Using science, great stories and examples from his three decades in corporate life, plus his twenty-year journey studying change, Al shares a formula for successful change that will endure today and prepare any organization for change demands that can’t yet be foreseen.

What other organizations say about Al Comeaux

Al Comeaux knows how to hold an audience. At a time when the phone is the speaker’s (and, I imagine, the event planner’s) biggest enemy, Al had our audience focused and attentive. His material and message are great, and just as important, he got through.


Works by Al Comeaux


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