Dave Pflieger is a highly successful start-up and turnaround executive who thrives in entrepreneurial settings that are focused on creating business success through customer satisfaction AND most importantly by ensuring employee happiness and recognition. Dave is also a huge proponent of ensuring company and employee involvement in the local community and making sure the organization is a great corporate citizen.
Dave has always felt strongly about finding talented employees, supporting them, and helping them grow. At Song (Delta’s low-cost airline) and Virgin America, Dave helped create customer service-focused hiring standards and practices that ensured the airlines hired and supported “people who liked people.”
Employee Hiring Initiatives
Health and Wellness Projects
Corporate Culture and Community Growth
While in Fiji, Dave led Air Pacific (later Fiji Airways) to become the first major company in Fiji to provide support and assistance to employees and families affected by cyclones and other major tropical storms. Local media noted that the sight of Dave and teams of company employees bringing food, water, and other critical supplies to the homes of colleagues affected by these devastating storms brought tears to their eyes.
More significant still was Dave’s work introducing two incredibly successful employee incentive programs. These two programs, the first to ever be introduced in the nation of Fiji, were:
- A quarterly KPI (key performance indicator) incentive program that allowed every employee in the company to earn up to $1,200 in extra compensation when the company achieved key targets in Safety, Operational Performance, Customer Service, and Employee Attendance/Satisfaction
- Profit Sharing for all employees.
Not only were both programs hugely popular with company employees, they also helped propel Air Pacific/Fiji Airways from being one of the worst and most unprofitable airlines in Asia-Pacific, to one that achieved (and is still achieving) record breaking profits and on-time performance, and was twice recognized by Conde Nast Traveler magazine during Dave’s tenure as one of the “Top 5” small airlines in the World.
Later, while he was working to fix and grow Silver Airways, Dave pushed to have the airline partner with local Broward College to establish a supportive career path for young men and women involved in Broward’s Professional Pilot Technology degree program — that partnership entailed offering preferential interviews and hiring to successful co-pilot candidates who graduated from Broward College. In addition, Dave and his team again led the way in the airline industry when they announced the first-ever $12,000 hiring bonuses for new first officers (co-pilots), to ensure they could make ends meet in the difficult first few years of commercial flying. Dave’s proactive, pro-employee work continued at Island Air in Hawaii, where he and his colleagues were the first to create a hiring bonus for talented aviation mechanics who joined the company from the U.S. mainland.
In addition, when Dave is not working within an actual startup (such as Delta’s low-cost airline “Song” or award-winning Virgin America), he is pushing companies to play their part in making local communities better places to live and work, and as he has shown in multiple settings at many different companies, Dave is dedicated to ensuring corporations do their part to establish and maintain the highest standards possible in corporate and social responsibility.
During his tenure at Virgin America, Dave started as a founding officer and employee “Number 14.” In his key role as project leader for the entire airline, Dave helped build and expand the airline from just over a dozen people, to one that had over 1,000 employees, nearly 30 aircraft, and a half-billion dollars in revenue by the time he was recruited away to become the CEO of Air Pacific.
From large-scale initiatives, such as creating a Corporate Sustainability Program from scratch and building a network of 80+ likeminded companies, to effect “ground level” changes, such as getting the headquarters building LEED certified, creating office recycling and reducing the use of bottled water at Virgin HQ, Dave and his “green team” were successful embedding sustainability into the core values of the airline. He positioned Virgin America as a pioneer in both lowering CO2 emissions and transparency when it became the first airline in the U.S. to report its annual greenhouse-gas emissions. With a new fleet of aircraft and highly fuel/CO2 conscious employees operating them, Virgin America was successful in making itself 25 percent more fuel- and carbon-efficient than the average airline.
Another great example of Dave Pflieger’s focus and passion is still in existence at Fiji Airways where Dave and his team stood up a first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program encompassing numerous ways to support the overall well-being of airline employees and Fijians in general. This program was focused on the environment, education of underprivileged children and the health and wellness of company employees and local community residents.
Of the three programs, Dave’s work on employee and public health was ground-breaking because no one, and certainly no corporation in Fiji, had ever before focused on proactive ways to ensure employee and local citizen health and wellness. This goal was accomplished through the creation of a one-of-a-kind Fiji Airways Wellness Clinic which worked to proactively screen local residents for highly common, but often fatal, illnesses such as hypertension and heart disease.
An essential part of this prevention program was the airline’s partnership with well-known local physician, Dr. Zen Low and his colleagues who provided airline paid-for preventative screenings and education to members of the public to help them detect and avoid these deadly diseases. In addition, Dr. Low also offered airline employees the opportunity to get “wellness” check-ups, with the airline later offering reduced health care premiums to those who passed.
Dave also takes an entrepreneurial approach to the CSR programs that he creates for employees and for their surrounding communities. He embraces the opportunity to properly organize and manage resources for best results. He took this same approach during his time with Song, an airline startup within a mainline brand, Delta. There, he had the unique opportunity to work within an existing brand, but utilize its assets to create new strategies and operating procedures that better suited employees’ needs and customers’ needs alike.
In addition, Dave enables corporate wellness by motivating and inspiring employees to work together as a collective in local community projects, such as partnerships with NGOs. This helps employees spread the message of their workplace in other places and create a more united culture among themselves.