High Cotton

➽ Greg Kelly has been an integral part of Georgia’s aviation industry since 1989 when he served on the Savannah Airport Commission. He serves on the Board of Directors for Airports Council International—North America, and the Southeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives. He is a past President and recipient of the Georgia Airports Association President’s Award and is on the boards of the Savannah Area Tourism Leadership Council, Visit Savannah, and the Chambers of Commerce in Savannah and Hilton Head-Bluffton. In addition to all of these big duties, he is also a private pilot!


➽ Kelly’s leadership style is based on the Bass theory, which is classical transformational leadership. This is where the leader is in charge of identifying an entity’s vision and executing change through inspiration and team-building.


➽ Leaders need to continuously motivate people. Kelly says, “I like to make sure people know what is expected of them by the organization, provide them with the resources to do their job and give them the latitude to perform. I think it’s very important to reward and incentivize.


➽ “Safety and security of our aviation system is the most critical challenge we face every day. It is essential that we do our part to ensure that our airport provides the most safe and secure environment for airline, air cargo, and general aviation activities as possible. We take that responsibility very seriously.”



➽ Every great leader has primary goals. Kelly laid his out as: “First and foremost, that we provide the most safe and secure environment for aircraft operations and the traveling public. Second, to offer the best customer service and experience possible. Third, to ensure we are meeting the air service needs of our region in working with the airlines and our regional partners such as SEDA, The Savannah Chamber, the HHI Chamber and Visit Savannah. Fourth, to drive down the average airfare as much as possible. Fifth, regain direct flights to South Florida. Sixth, increase capacity to Chicago, Dallas and Washington, DC.


➽ Then we make sure we are active in the counties, communities and organization throughout this region. We use traditional print media, web based advertising, social media, sponsorships, participation and community involvement to help market this airport to the region. We also do some target marketing in key areas around the country in partnership with Visit Savannah, the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce and SEDA. Our partnerships with these organizations and the Savannah and Hilton Head Chambers of Commerce are invaluable.


➽ On how he balances work and home life, Kelly said, “We operate on a family first philosophy here. As for me, work is personal. We all have to take it personally considering the responsibility we have.


➽ I am traveling about once a month now. As for packing I carry a leather carry on bag/briefcase and a duffle bag style suitcase. Everything I need goes in one of those two places regardless of how long the trip is.


➽ The inviting environment of the airport itself makes it unique. Architect Ben Lao studied Savannah intensely to come up with a design base on her beautiful city squares. The open atrium prior to entering security is referred to as “the square” and offers a park-like setting for travelers. Lao said, “In the late 80's, while most airport passenger terminals worldwide were trending toward steel and glass construction with curvy roof forms, I took a different approach after driving and walking around town for several days in an effort to try to understand the character of the city. With brick as the predominant building material at most of the prominent structures in the City, the idea of using brick in the new terminal became a natural fit for the project.”