LEADERS SURVEY: Jetstar boss CEO Stephanie Tully reveals how her two daughters help during a crisis

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Stephanie Tully at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney, Australia.
Stephanie Tully at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney, Australia. Credit: Matt King/Getty Images for Jetstar

Stephanie Tully took the reins of Jetstar during a difficult patch for the low-cost carrier, but she didn’t let the pressure overwhelm her.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to always keep things in perspective, especially during times of crisis,” she told The Nightly for its exclusive Leaders Survey.

“My daughters help me stay grounded and come back to what’s most important, which is always people.

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“I’ve (also) been lucky enough to have some great female mentors throughout my career and they’ve taught me that being vulnerable is really important as a leader and gives people around you permission to do the same.”

Ms Tully joined the Qantas subsidiary in November 2022 when the airline was going through an extremely challenging period as it staggered back to its feet after the major pandemic disruption.

“We weren’t reliable, and we were letting our customers down,” she said.

“Maintaining a routine was very important to me during this time. Running is a constant in my life and really helps me to think clearly, stay calm and work through problems.

“Even now, I try to run every day … we are a sporty household and playing, coaching and supporting my daughters and husband in their sport has also ingrained in me the importance of teamwork, both on and off the field.”

Ms Tully says a teamwork-first mindset has enabled Jetstar, which last month celebrated 20 years since its inaugural flight, to implement more than 50 changes in the past 18 months to improve its performance.

“We’re now performing strongly and our current cancellation rate has dropped from 8 per cent to 2 per cent in the space of a year,” she said.

The aviation industry veteran, formerly Qantas’ chief customer officer, believes reaching net zero is going to be the biggest challenge for the industry going forward.

“We’ve seen from around the world that the right policy settings need to be in place for domestic biofuel industries, and we welcomed the commitments in the Federal Budget to measures that would fast-track a low-carbon liquid fuel industry,” she said.

“Australia has many advantages for sustainable aviation fuel production, and the country also stands to gain a lot including getting closer to its emissions reduction targets, job growth, economic benefit and improved fuel security.

“It’s a significant challenge but the industry is working hard to get there and make sure that Australia remains globally competitive.”

Stephanie Tully the new Chief Executive office of Jetstar.
Stephanie Tully, th Chief Executive office of Jetstar. Credit: Qantas/Supplied

Ms Tully is acutely aware of how the cost of living crisis is impacting Australians but says “many people are still prioritising holidays”.

“Keeping travel affordable is key for us,” she said.

“Since launching in 2004, we’ve sold nearly 400 million low fares across the Jetstar Group and more than half of those fares have been under $100.”

As a mother of two daughters Ms Tully says she is also passionate about attracting more women to aviation, particularly in operational roles.

“Globally, women account for around four per cent of pilots and three per cent of aviation engineers and while we’ve come a long way in terms of increasing these numbers, we have an even longer way to go,” she said.

“Achieving true gender balance will take generational change and we need to focus on breaking down stereotypes, tapping into schools and creating more pathways for girls and young women to take on aviation roles that may be traditionally male-dominated.”

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