Jun 01, 2023 | 2 min read

Leading the Innovation Lab at United Airlines with Jorie Sax

By: Patrick Emmons

Leading the Innovation Lab at United Airlines with Jorie Sax

In an industry deeply focused on the “now”— scheduling down to the minute—and dedicated to safety above all else, how can innovation with an eye to the future and taking risks fit in? In aviation, United Airlines found a solution by tasking Jorie Sax with launching and leading its first innovation lab, Airshop.

In this episode, Jorie shares how an innovation lab can foreground collaboration and inspire peers throughout the company while maintaining safety standards and continuing to produce value. Jorie dives into how leading with play and exploration can naturally guide collaborators back to constraints and tensions without having to lead with those limitations. She discusses guiding others to find their spirit of curiosity, how “inclusion propels innovation”, and embracing a startup mentality in order to lead innovation.

  • (02:07) – Airshop at United Airlines
  • (03:42) – Leading the industry through innovation
  • (07:48) – “Inclusion propels innovation”
  • (10:07) – Encouraging an open mind
  • (15:40) – Accelerator and break
  • (18:09) – Seeing value in potential
  • (22:00) – Looking beyond the aviation industry
  • (23:56) – Collaboration in innovation
  • (27:35) – Producing and impact
  • (29:40) – Creating an innovation structure
  • (31:43) – Embracing a startup mentality and entrepreneurial spirit

About Our Guest

Jorie Sax serves as the head of the first innovation lab, Airshop, at United Airlines. She has held positions in legal, marketing, corporate partnerships, innovation, and digital technology functions throughout her two-decade career at entertainment and lifestyle brands, such as MillerCoors and the Chicago White Sox.

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About Patrick Emmons

If you can’t appreciate a good sports analogy, movie quote, or military reference, you may not want to work with him, but if you value honesty, integrity, and commitment to improvement, Patrick can certainly help take your business or your career to the next level. “Good enough,” is simply not in his vernacular. Pat’s passion is for relentlessly pushing himself and others to achieve full potential. Patrick Emmons is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. Patrick co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001 and in 2015, founded DragonSpears as a spin-off dedicated to developing custom applications that improve speed, compliance and scalability of clients’ internal and customer-facing workflow processes. When he is not learning about new technology, running a better business, or becoming a stronger leader, he can be found coaching his kids’ (FIVE of them) baseball and lacrosse teams and praising his ever-so-patient wife for all her support.

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