Bain partner Dave Emerson joins executive team of Virgin

14 June 2021 3 min. read
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Virgin Australia has announced the appointment of Bain & Company senior partner Dave Emerson as its new Chief Commercial Officer, with Emerson having been aiding the carrier since last year.

Dave Emerson is the head of Bain’s global airline practice and has been leading many of Virgin’s business transformation initiatives since last year, when the Covid-hit airline was snapped up by private equity giant Bain Capital for $3.5 billion following a period of voluntary administration (with Deloitte appointed as administrator).

Bain Capital subsequently tapped former Bain & Company partner Jayne Hrdlicka as CEO, with Hrdlicka in turn bringing in her former employer on the airline’s substantial turnaround mission. Now, the previously Dallas-based Bain’ veteran leading that effort has joined Virgin’s executive leadership team, with Emerson to be based out of Brisbane and tasked with overseeing commercial strategy, including revenue management, sales, distribution and marketing.

Dave Emerson, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Australia

An MBA-graduate in Strategy and Finance from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Emerson kicked off his career as a revenue management manager with US airline America West, before initially joining Bain in 1995. During his time at the strategy consultancy, Emerson has led multiple large-scale transformations at airlines around the globe, with an EgyptAir turnaround project among the firm's recent aviation industry engagements.

“Dave has earned an international reputation for excellence while advising dozens of major airlines in all major geographies globally, and I am delighted he will be joining our leadership team,” said Hrdlicka, who also took the opportunity to thank retiring commercial chief John MacLeod after almost two years in the role. “On behalf of the entire Virgin Australia team, I want to sincerely thank John for the important role he has played and all that he has achieved.”

Alongside Hrdlicka and Emerson, Virgin’s recently appointed Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer Alistair Hartley is also a one-time Bain consultant – having spent over four years with the firm at the beginning of his career – while Virgin’s incoming Velocity frequent flyer CEO Nick Rohrlach (currently on ‘gardening leave’ thanks to an injunction from former employer Qanta) was with Boston Consulting Group for seven and a half years until 2011.

Meanwhile, another recent executive appointee in Chief People Officer Lisa Burquest worked under Hrdlicka – Bain’s first ever female partner in Australia – when she headed up Jetstar and later the A2 Milk Company. It was during Hrdlick’s time at the latter where the straight-shooting CEO was accused by critics of spending close to $20 million on Bain consultants – a charge she has since denied, suggesting only a small portion of that sum was contracted with Bain.