To say it’s been a few rough years in public relations for United Airlines is of course a gross understatement. Their former CEO was accused of corruption in 2015, then they got into a battle with activists over board appointments in 2016. However, with Leggings Gate—with which Erin had a unique experience—and the passenger dragging incident, 2017 may just be their roughest PR year yet. And with that, senior vice president of Corporate Communications, Jim Olson, has just resigned, effective January 8.
Olson was appointed in February 2016, and his tenure was clearly full of constant controversies to tackle. He’s leaving of his own accord, and one is left to wonder if it was the never-ending barrage of crises that left him feeling too dejected to continue. While successfully mitigating a PR crisis is professionally fulfilling, there is a touch of doubt that Olson was able to fully reconcile United in the public eye (shares fell 12 percent from Q2 to Q3). So I can say I totally get it if Olson is choosing to resign due to a lack of inspiring wins among the difficult days. It’s tough to keep going without a success every now and again.
When your job is onerous but you can’t quit immediately, it’s important to have coping strategies in place for fostering positive emotional and physical health. (After all, Olson’s boss, current CEO Oscar Munoz suffered from a heart attack and subsequent transplant after barely a month on the job…) A few ideas include scheduling time every day to physically leave your office and regroup, avoiding festering negativity by venting with coworkers, and prioritize exercise.
Best of luck, Mr. Olson. Perhaps your next position will be a touch less stressful.