Distinguished Speaker Series

The College of Business Distinguished Speaker Series provides students and faculty with an opportunity to learn from prominent executives and leaders in the business community.

Each month during the semester, a different speaker is brought to campus to offer new perspectives and first-hand information about the complexities of the business world. Past topics have included successful management styles, possible career paths, critical industry-related issues, and qualities conducive to successful business leadership.

These lectures enhance the educational experience of students in the College of Business, while inspiring them to seek new ways to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Check with your professor to see if the Distinguished Speaker Series can help you earn extra credit or meet your College of Business major declaration requirements.

Distinguished Speaker Series

Featuring: Southwest Airlines Senior Executive Panel Discussion
Co-hosted by The Logistics Center and the UNT AAAE Student Organization

Friday, April 7
2:30 – 3:30pm
Location: BLB 055


Matt Buckley, Vice President, Cargo & Charters
Jim Ruppel, Vice President, Customer Relations & Rapid Rewards
Chris Wahlenmaier, Vice President, Customer Support & Services

Matt Buckley, Vice President, Cargo & Charters

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality."

Title: Vice President, Cargo & Charters

JOB DESCRIPTION: Responsible for generating ancillary revenue through the effective sales and support of Cargo and Charter services. Oversee the development and implementation of programs to support the department's pursuit of operational excellence and achieving performance goals.

EXPERIENCE: SWA Since 1982 --- Ramp Agent-MAF; Ops Agent-MAF and SFO; Marketing Representative-East Bay; Manager of Cargo-Ground Operations; Cargo Marketing Manager-Marketing; General Manager of Cargo; Director of Cargo; Director of Cargo and Mail; Director Cargo, Mail & Central Baggage Services; Senior Director System Support-Ground Operations; Senior Director Marketing Planning-Media Advertising ; Senior Director Stations; Senior Director Cargo and Operational Excellence Programs; Senior Director Cargo & Charters-Vice President, Cargo and Charters.

EDUCATION: BS General Studies; West Texas State University


FIRST PAYING JOB: Paper boy - Amarillo Globe News

PROUDEST MOMENT: The day I married Gretchen

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Inspect what you expect (emphasized with a Texas twang).

BEST ADVICE EVER GIVEN: Keep your eyes open for opportunities to help others in the workplace. It may just be the single most important reason for your existence that day, month or year!

Jim Ruppel, Vice President, Customer Relations & Rapid Rewards

Leadership is...
"Practicing the Golden Rule, choosing to be a positive influence, and respecting others."

Title: Vice President Customer Relations & Rapid Rewards

JOB DESCRIPTION: Jim is responsible for the general management of Customer Relations, Customer Advocacy, and the Customer Relations function of the Rapid Rewards program.

EXPERIENCE: Prior to working at Southwest, Jim was employed by Case-Dunlap as an advertising specialties sales representative. At Southwest, he has served in Dallas as a provisioning agent, a ramp agent, a baggage service representative, manager of central baggage claims, and director of Customer Relations.

EDUCATION: Jim earned a B.S. in business administration from Centenary College in 1976.


FIRST PAYING JOB: Working as a baggage clerk for Tom Thumb Food Stores in Dallas.

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Always remember there are two sides to every story and the truth is usually in the middle.

Chris Wahlenmaier, Vice President, Customer Support & Services

Title: Vice President, Customer Support & Services

JOB DESCRIPTION: Responsible for leading Southwest's Customer Support & Services Department

EXPERIENCE: An airline industry veteran of more than 30 years, Chris started his airline career in 1979 as a Ramp Agent before holding positions in Customer Service and Operations (Agent and Supervisor). He joined Southwest Airlines in 1989 and has expanded his career by serving Southwest's Customers and Employees through the following roles: Customer Service Manager at Chicago's MDW in 1989; Station Manager in Tulsa in 1990; Station Manager at MDW in 1991; Regional Director Ground Operations in 1995; and Sr. Director Ground Operations in 1999. Chris was then promoted to Vice President-Station Operations and was appointed Vice President Ground Operations in 2006 prior to becoming Vice President Customer Support and Services in 2014.


FAMILY: Chris is the proud father of a wonderful son: Christopher. Chris is happily married to his wife, Tracey. Tracey has two sons, Nick and Matt. He is also “papa” to his beautiful granddaughter born on Christmas Eve.

FIRST PAYING JOB: Pumping gas, changing oil, and fixing flat tires at a local gas station (long before self-service). Made a whopping $1.25 an hour and was proud of each paycheck!

PROUDEST MOMENT: Chris states that his son has brought so many proud moments from the day he was born.

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Before taking any job my Dad would always preach, "Whatever you do, do it with all your might." I've tried to honor that advice going into every job I have been blessed to have.

BEST ADVICE EVER GIVEN: Be patient and enjoy the journey. Opportunities will come.