Evangel Profile

Eric Laing (’07): Delta Airlines revenue management analyst

July 31, 2009

When he graduated magna cum laude from Evangel University in May 2007, Eric Laing went to work as a CPA at KPMG, one of the nation’s “Big 4” accounting firms.

However, the former Accounting and Management major soon decided that was not the job for him.

“I quickly grew tired of the stressful, long hours that the job demanded and began to realize that life as an auditor was not all that exciting,” says Laing, who is originally from Mulberry, Florida.

So after several months with KPMG, Laing began perusing a different career path.

“I realized that life is too short to not do something that I enjoy and decided that I wanted to work in the airline industry in a business-type role,” he says.

“I have always been fascinated by travel and transportation. As a kid I loved trains, and that eventually grew into a love for airplanes. Whenever we would go on a family vacation, going to the airport and flying across the country would be one of the best parts of the trip for me.”

Laing decided to indulge his childhood fantasy and pursue a career in the airline industry. He began checking Delta Airline’s online employment database everyday for three months.

Finding the perfect job

Persistence eventually paid off when he came across an entry-level position as an analyst in the Revenue Management department at Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Laing was interviewed for the position and was hired in April 2009.

“It is tough to stay on top of the airline industry,” says Laing. “But I love it.”

As a revenue management analyst, Laing is responsible for managing all of the flights in and out of five cities in the Midwest region — selling the seats and monitoring whether or not they make money.

“So yes, I am THAT guy who increases the prices on you,” Laing says.

Maximizing profits in a stumbling economy

Through the use of reports and computer programs, Laing either takes away or adds the “cheap seats” on flights to try to maximize the airline’s revenue.

“It is almost like day trading, in my opinion,” he says.

Airlines across the board have taken huge hits with the stumbling economy and oil prices on the rise, but Delta, which recently merged with Northwest, has developed into a leader in the industry.

“It’s been said that if you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars, operate an airline, and then you’ll be a millionaire,” Laing says. “The recession and potentially high oil prices do not help out the bottom line of an airline’s income statement. As a result of the merger, Delta is well-positioned in the tough economy.”

“If anything, the recession makes our job in Revenue Management all the more important.”

Though trying to understand how to make money in the current economy is tough, Laing believes his education at Evangel University and his experience at KPMG prepared him for this job.

“Without a doubt I feel that my solid education prepared me for public accounting, but it was also the important guidance and encouragement of my professors to pursue my dreams and passions — and EU has given me the skills and abilities to do just that.”

The added perks

“The best thing has to be the free travel benefits,” Laing says of his employment benefits that include free and unlimited flights anywhere in the world that Delta flies.

“Aside from that though, I thoroughly enjoy working at an airline and doing something that I love. I have to pinch myself sometimes to think that I was blessed enough to have my hobby and passion turn into a career.”

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