The Colleen C. Barrett Institute for Cultural Excellence & Customer Service

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Attracting & Retaining Employees: Training & Development

Our Company Promise commits to providing our Employees equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Southwest Airlines University (SWA U) exists on this foundation. We strive to create training and development opportunities for our Leaders and Employees to continue pouring into our strong Culture, thus retaining our most important asset, and setting up our People to achieve their professional goals.

SWA U is where our New Hires start their career and where we encourage Employees to make learning and development a central component of their journey at Southwest. Our Purpose at SWA U is to equip Employees with the knowledge and training needed to perform their jobs with Safety, Reliability, Hospitality, and Low Cost in mind. To help “Make Learning a Habit,” we offer formal and informal training to increase skillset and to foster personal growth and development.

As a Company, we walk the talk when we say that our People are our greatest asset. We firmly believe that through engagement and development of our Employees, we can better retain them. Training our Frontline Employees with state of the art equipment allows them to learn and experience firsthand the skills needed to perform their job duties. 

We also focus on Leadership and Employee development at SWA U. In order for our Leaders to lead at their peak performance, they must continue to invest in their own development. Our Leaders receive initial Leadership training when they promote into a Leadership position at the Company and all Leaders must complete an annual commitment of Leadership development coursework. Other opportunities available to Leaders include mentorship, cohort experiences, and dedicated learning events through programs offered by SWA U. By investing in our Leaders, we increase their engagement in their work and Teams, and the Employees under their Leadership benefit as a result. It is a win-win!  

My Southwest journey began as an Intern nearly 23 years ago! I am a product of the development and growth opportunities that our great Company offers to its People. I hope that you take the time this year to set goals around your professional development—read a book, take a class, or mentor someone—so you and those you lead reap the rewards and carry a culture of learning forward in your own environment.


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Kristi Owens

Sr. Director Leadership & Employee Development, Southwest Airlines University

View Thought Leaders Recommended Resources

Do you have questions for our Southwest Leaders about what it means to Lead Well? For a limited time, you will have the opportunity to submit your questions for a Southwest Thought Leader to answer in our next Virtual Fireside Chat.

Submit your questions in the box below, and be sure to keep an eye out for an email announcing the opening of registration for the Virtual Fireside Chat!

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