Corner Office Shifts: WestJet exec named Swoop president

Plus, new leaders at RYU Apparel and Manulife help guide their brands through the worst of the pandemic.
Corner Office

Swoop’s new president to continue serving as WestJet EVP

Charles Duncan is taking on even more responsibility at WestJet, succeeding Steven Greenway as president of its low-cost subsidiary Swoop on April 17. Greenway, who helped guide Swoop through its first years as an airline, departs after roughly two years in the role.

His appointment comes a few months after Swoop hired Bert Van der Stege as head of commercial, a role that comes with oversight of marketing, network planning, pricing, distribution and sales.

WestJet chief executive Ed Sims described Duncan’s experience at the helm of WestJet Encore, its regional arm, as an asset to Swoop. Duncan first joined WestJet as president of the division in 2017, was appointed EVP and chief strategy officer a year later and added leadership of its cargo division to his remit last year.

Swoop was founded in 2018 to meet consumer demand for low-cost air travel as its regional parent company moved more upscale and pursued ambitions of becoming a global airline.

Swoop had plans to add service to Victoria and Kamloops, B.C., as well as San Diego, Saint John’s, Charlottetown, Moncton and New Brunswick this summer, according to Western Aviation News. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has reduced service to a “single route linking four cities a few days a week.”

In a statement, Duncan said that despite the current challenges facing the airlines industry as a result of COVID-19, the company “remain[s] committed to the ultra-low-cost carrier model and believe[s] it will be an important element of our future success.”

RYU Apparel gets new leadership as CEO steps down

Cesare Fazari has replaced Marcello Leone as CEO and chair of Vancouver-based activewear retailer Respect Your Universe (RYU), after having served as interim chief executive for nearly two months. The appointment took effect on April 21.

Leone had served as president of CEO since 20014, when he purchased what was then a mixed martial arts apparel brand and moved it from Portland, Ore. to Vancouver, with hopes of becoming the next Lululemon Athletica.

In a press release, the company said it would be moving away from its previous strategy of pursuing physical retail and ecommerce. Under Fazari, whose background is in real estate, health care, biotechnology and financial technology, the brand said it would “evolve its business model to focus primarily on online sales in addition to key retail locations in major markets including Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Southern California.”

Manulife navigating pandemic under new global CMO

Karen Leggett was named global CMO for the Toronto-based financial services company just as the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada. Her appointment comes one year after a corporate restructuring that included the departure of former global CMO Gretchen Garrigues and the elimination of the COO role at Manulife.

Leggett is leading marketing, innovation, digital and analytics globally, following Manulife’s decision to incorporate analytics into the marketing function at the time of Garrigues’ departure last year. At the time, the company told strategy that the shakeup would “better position us to accelerate our transformation” and “enable us to move with even greater speed, agility and focus as we transform into the most digital, customer-centric global company in our industry.”

Stacey Grant-Thompson, who was named CMO of Canadian operations in April 2018, maintains her current role and responsibilities.

Leggett was most recently as global client partner Ernst & Young and has previously served as CMO of National Bank and in senior roles at RBC.