United Airlines has appointed Michael Leskinen as its new Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President. The announcement also confirms Leskinen’s inclusion into United’s Executive Team.
Earlier this year, United announced that prior CFO Gerry Laderman would remain in the role until his successor was appointed. Laderman will serve as EVP of Finance until his planned retirement in September 2024.
A Veteran in the Finance Sector
With over two decades of Wall Street experience and five years serving as a finance executive at United, Michael Leskinen brings a unique blend of expertise in public markets and the airline industry. Leskinen’s skill set makes him the perfect fit for overseeing many critical areas, including corporate finance, treasury, financial planning, tax, accounting, and more.
“He is the best person to help us drive a culture within our finance team that’s focused on moving fast, hitting our targets with no excuses, and being disciplined about capital and cost decision-making that supports our United Next plan. I know Mike will bring a strong and independent strategic perspective to the table when we’re making decisions about United’s future,” said Scott Kirby, United’s CEO.
Elevating United’s Financial Flexibility During Challenging Times
One of Leskinen’s most noteworthy accomplishments came in 2020 when he led the team that secured $6.8 billion of financing through United’s MileagePlus loyalty program. This move was an industry-first and provided United with crucial financial flexibility during the pandemic. His leadership has shown a keen ability to innovate, even in turbulent times.
Focusing on Sustainability Through Investments
In addition to his role as CFO, Michael Leskinen serves as the President of United Airlines Ventures (UAV). The airline’s venture capital fund aims to decarbonize air travel and enhance customer experience. The fund has invested in forward-looking technologies such as carbon capture, micro-algae-based biologic feedstocks, and electric aircraft.
An Eye on Sustainable Aviation Fuel
More recently, Leskinen oversaw the launch of a $200 million corporate investment fund accelerating Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This aligns with the global push towards sustainability and United’s commitment to becoming an industry leader in eco-friendly travel solutions.
United’s New CFO’s CV in Brief
Before United, Leskinen was executive director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management from 2013-2017. He led the firm’s investment efforts in aerospace, defense, and airlines. From 2009-2013, Leskinen worked at Oppenheimer Funds, focusing on the aerospace sector. Leskinen received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University and his M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Best-Performing North American Airline Stock of 2023
United has been the best-performing North American airline stock through the first eight months of 2023. This speaks to the airline’s executive team’s savvy decision-making and strategic planning. Leskinen’s appointment as United Airlines Chief Financial Officer will bolster their efforts.