Public Relations, Sports Marketing & Communication
Sr. CX Strategy Consultant for Southwest Airlines
“Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you.”
That’s the advice Matt Thome ’17 offers to Carthage students. By following that advice himself when he was a student, Mr. Thome first landed a job with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and now works as a senior CX strategy consultant for Southwest Airlines.
“In my role for Southwest Airlines, I act as a partner for our airport leaders and various corporate staff to be the voice of the customer on their day of travel,” said Mr. Thome. “Our customer experience team works to remove points of friction for all parts of the customer journey. In my role, I focus on the day of travel within airports across our network. Using my expertise from working in sports and venue management, I use feedback from our customers to accurately inform internal and external stakeholders about customers’ feelings about each point in the customer journey, and then write plans, pitch projects, and oversee the execution of improvements to improve the day of travel experience for more than 150 million customers each year.”
He credits many members of Carthage’s faculty and staff for giving him opportunities and supporting him along the way.
“Everything I was involved in at Carthage helped bring me to this point in my career. Every professor and every supervisor I ever had at Carthage encouraged me to take control of my education and experience.”
“Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you. It’s the best way to help shape your path for how you want to live your life both professionally and personally.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“What I enjoy most about my career is how I can use my position as an agent of change in my community. Both in sports and aviation, I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the world’s most admired companies. During my time in sports, I had the opportunity to create life-long memories for our fans, memories that will last a lifetime. Now, I get to improve an experience that most feel is rather stressful, whether they are traveling for leisure, business, or going to be with family during good times and bad. My work directly impacts hundreds of thousands of people every day and how they navigate what can sometimes be a stressful and confusing experience. On top of the professional work, we get to spend our time volunteering in our communities and giving back to those who are most deserving. It’s so rewarding to have the opportunity to give back and make an impact.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“Everything I was involved in at Carthage helped bring me to this point in my career. Every professor and every supervisor I ever had at Carthage encouraged me to take control of my education and experience. They allowed me the chance to take on additional responsibilities that would usually be reserved for a full-time staff member, take internships even if they sometimes interfered with our weekly class schedule, and helped me prepare for national conference presentations that helped propel my brand.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“I think that Carthage has prepared me to see all sides of an issue, both big and small. It’s not always about who the issue directly impacts. You also have to pay attention to the ripple effect and how your decisions can affect seemingly unimportant stakeholders and groups.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?
“My role on the athletic communications team allowed me to have experience with media relations, event coordination, fundraising, press writing, event management, and video production. While working for the men’s basketball team, I was not only able to gain valuable event management, travel coordination, budget management, and coaching skills, but this is also where I found some of my closest friends. My PR studies helped me with message and strategic planning, graphic design, and storytelling. I truly never understood the power of storytelling until I was in the professional world. If you can craft a message and tell a great story, you will get things done and go far in your career.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“The late Dr. Bob Bonn inspired my passion for servant leadership and was a big proponent of my belief in myself that I could grow the way I always dreamed I could. Colleen Palmer provided me with the flexibility and support I needed to go to college full-time while gaining real-world experience in the field of public relations through multiple internships and work studies. Steve Djurickovic provided me with a platform to lead, develop new skills, and take ownership of numerous portions of the Men’s Basketball program, which helped me advance my career in collegiate and professional sports. Jennifer Madden inspired my love for innovation which has led me to more opportunities than I can count.”
Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.
- Male student leader of the year finalist
- Public Relations Outstanding Graduating Senior Award
- Silver Award Educational Advertising Awards
- Higher Education Marketing Report for Carthage Athletics recruitment video project