travel industry thought leader

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Sadiq was born and lives in London and has visited over 120 countries. He is a Senior Advisor for travel at Attestor Capital, where he is Chairman of the Advisory Board for Condor, the second airline of Germany. He sits on the board of eTraveli, an online travel agency owned by CVC Partners, the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council for Travel and is a Trustee of Stonewall. Sadiq is also an Executive Coach founded in the work of Carl Jung. He started an MBA course at Stanford on the Travel & Airline industry and is the subject of a case study in Jeffrey Pfeffer's class "Paths to Power".
He previously headed up the in-house consulting division of Emirates and spent 7 years with Lufthansa, where he was Chief Strategy & Innovation officer, reporting to the CEO. He began his career with Bain & Co. and was a partner at Seabury, a boutique airline consulting firm. He completed his MBA at Harvard Business School and holds a BA and MPhil in Management Studies from Cambridge University. He was included in FT Top 100 OUTstanding leaders list, Capital Magazine's Top 40 under 40 the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders.


art of disciplined opportunism

Do you want to fast track your career? Are you interested in pursuing a portfolio career? Would you like reinvent yourself after setbacks? This 5 P framework will help your career reach cruising altitude: by being clear on your Purpose, Preparing your mind and body by creating the space, being alert to Pursue opportunities, having Partners to support you and Pivoting in the event of turbulence. This keynote speech was delivered at the Stanford Alumni Reunion in May 2021

tedx berlin: next step for airlines

In the thought-provoking TED Talk titled "The Next Step for Airlines," I delve into the transformative future of the airline industry, addressing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. As we stand on the cusp of significant technological and environmental advancements, the talk explores how airlines are poised to redefine air travel in unprecedented ways.





Sadiq Gillani was hired as the head of strategy for the prominent airline Lufthansa when he was thirty-two years old, becoming the youngest senior vice president ever appointed. Gillani was chosen for that position by the CEO at the time, Christoph Franz, even though he did not speak a word of German and was going to join a very traditional, very German organization. In January 2022, Gillani joined the supervisory board of Condor, the second-largest airline in Germany, as a sort of vice chairman, and also joined Attestor Capital, the new owners of Condor, as a senior advisor for their airline and travel investments. Gillani's career nicely illustrates how he used his position at Lufthansa to extend his brand.

When Gillani joined Lufthansa, the former head of Seabury Consulting told him that he had a great platform and to leverage it to build exposure and prominence. Gillani took that advice, and it paid dividends for him in boosting his visibility and brand in the airline industry. For instance, Lufthansa was, not surprisingly, a member of the World Economic Forum, but had not been that active in the organization. Gillani described how he leveraged his position in Lufthansa to substantially enhance his network: I went to Davos as part of the Lufthansa delegation, learned about the YGL [Young Global Leader] community, and decided to try to become part of it. One of the requirements was that the CEO of your company, which was my boss, had to write a recommendation for you... I was accepted into the program. I had become the company representative of Lufthansa to the WEF and was also able to join their Global Future Council for Travel. This is about 20 people from across the world who help design the agenda of the WEF when it comes to travel and mobility.


"Having graduated with a Harvard MBA and 7 years of consulting experience, I was well prepared for the strategic content of my role and my mission to develop a strategy to turnaround the company. However, this training didn’t prepare me for navigating the corporate culture and psychology. I was offered the support of having a corporate coach and John O’Brien’s Jung psychology background stood out at me. Since then, John has been by my side, helping me develop, understand the landscape and have impact during each of my subsequent roles. He has taught me how to apply corporate analytical psychology and understand the unconscious forces at play in the board room. (...)

Business schools and consulting firms train people to only focus on results and that can lead to blind spots. To be effective we also have to understand the culture, the mindset of leaders and the psyche. In organisations there are often repeating patterns of family structures playing out. There are organisational scars from previous failures. There is often an inherent risk aversion, built up over many years. Coming in fresh into an organisation, one has to learn the culture whilst convincing people to trust us. As a leader with a diverse background, it becomes even harder to gain trust as people tend to like those who are similar. The 20/60/20 rule applies quite accurately in these situations: 20% of people can be convinced to support you, but 20% of people will be at best sceptical and at worst out to destroy you. The real challenge is to work on the middle 60%, using your supporters to help. In most companies trust comes with time rather than fresh ideas, making it challenging for new comers."

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