A Q&A with Airline Strategist Jean Charles Perino (MBA ’93)

Jean Charles Perino (MBA ’93) has lived and traveled around the world as an airline marketer and strategist who has worked for British Air, Air Canada and Elysair SAS, among other carriers. When he decided to earn his MBA in finance in the early 1990s, he landed in Chicago at DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. 

Today, Perino, a native of France, applies the business lessons he learned at DePaul to his role as co-founder and executive vice president of Paris-based La Compagnie, a boutique all-business class airline that flies between Paris and New York. Perino discussed his insights on the airline industry and La Compagnie’s strategy when he met with DePaul students in Assistant Professor of Marketing James Mourey’s luxury marketing class during their study abroad visit to Paris last spring.  In this Q&A, Perino (MBA ’93) shares those insights as well as advice for students who seek a similar career path.

Why did you decide to attend DePaul’s business school?

When I moved to Chicago for 18 months, I was looking for a university that would bring great value in education to complete my graduate studies begun in Paris. DePaul was the best alternative in the city, without impairing my future with huge tuition! As an international student, DePaul University at that time was probably one of the best kept secrets when it comes to graduate education in the U.S.A.

How did your DePaul education prepare you for your current role?

My experience led me to be involved in an international environment. Studying at DePaul and interacting with students coming from various backgrounds helped me to go beyond my own personal circle. This has been a key success factor in what I have since done in my various positions. On a more academic level, my major in finance has been a career accelerator, especially when it came to going beyond my commercial and marketing background over the years.

What led you to co-found La Compagnie?

From a passenger perspective, La Compagnie is a unique answer to a tricky question: how to travel in business class for much less? The world has changed. We are strong believers that we offer the right product that addresses the current and future market evolution. It matches corporations’ urgency to cut costs without cutting travel comfort for their employees. It is, as well, a perfect alternative for individuals who are prepared to pay a premium for flying business, but not a huge one. This is why this model talks to a lot of different segments.

What is La Compagnie’s niche in the airline market?

We are targeting the corporate segment, affluent people who want to fly in comfort without paying the high price tag, and people in summer who are mad at flying coach class at sky-rocking air prices. We are a very small player facing huge legacy airlines. Our size is probably one of our strengths: we are more focused on our customers, and more personal and closer to our customers.  When you are small, you need to walk the extra mile to do more for your customers. Doing more for me is an attitude on top of designing and delivering the right product to your target audience. Our repeat business represents more than 45 percent of our business since launch (in 2014). To me, it’s a tribute to our teams and to the value we created in business class between New York and Paris.  I’m a strong believer of what I learned in class at DePaul few years ago: “small can be beautiful!”

What are the airline’s future plans?

Our key focus is to grow our business for New York-Paris. We have some plans in the future, but at this stage of our development we are focusing on this route and our double daily service.

What advice do you have for students who would like to work in this industry?
There is no magic answer to this question. Just a few rules that help. Work, listen, challenge and remain humble! Those are four milestones that shall lead to succeed in this arena. This is not a guarantee, but it definitely helps to grow your chances of success.

Learn more about the DePaul MBA and international student admission​.​​

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