Wheels Up appoints GE veteran Smith as new CFO

By Doug Gollan, June 23, 2022

GE veteran Smith replaces Eric Jacobs who took a similar position with Ritchie Brothers

Wheels Up Experience said it has hired Todd Smith as its new Chief Financial Officer, effective June 30, 2022

He replaces Eric Jacobs who resigned last month to join Ritchie Brothers as CFO.

Smith joins from General Electric where he served in a number of senior, global finance roles over his 25-year career.

Most recently he was as Global Head of Financial Planning and Analysis and CFO for GE Corporate Services since 2018.

Smith previously served as CFO for several GE business units, including Gas Power Systems, Capital International, Healthcare Life Sciences, Capital Real Estate and Commercial Finance.

He began his career with GE in 1997 as a member of the Financial Management Program. He then spent over five and a half years on GE’s Corporate Audit Staff.

“We are thrilled to welcome Todd to the Wheels Up family. He has a deep background across a number of key financial disciplines, experience in the public markets and a global perspective that will be invaluable as we continue to create the future of private travel,” said Wheels Up Chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter.

Dichter added, “Equally important, Todd is a dynamic and experienced leader who has been successful leading both high-growth and mature businesses in a range of industries. He will be a great addition to our leadership team.”

Wheels Up expansion

According to the announcement, Smith played a key role around the decision to split GE into three separate public companies.

He joins Wheels Up during a critical period.

Over the past four years Wheels Up has moved from a pure play private aviation membership company with more than a half dozen acquisitions.

From outsourcing flying, it is now the third largest operator in North America behind only NetJets and Directional’s Flexjet.

It also offers technology solutions, maintenance, aircraft management, and even operates an FBO. It launched a whole aircraft sales unit last year.

Its recent acquisition of Air Partner brought it into new business lines: group charters, cargo charters, and aviation related services.

During that period it built sales to over $1 billion and most recently set another quarterly revenue record.

Last year went public via a SPAC merger. However, its stock price is down about 75% since the IPO as costs and losses have increased.

“Through its growing marketplace, strong brand and talented team, Wheels Up has an incredible opportunity to fundamentally change private travel, making it more rewarding and accessible for millions of consumers around the world,” Smith said.

He added, “I am excited to join a committed and engaged group of senior leaders in their mission to deliver an exceptional experience – in the air and on the ground – to members and customers.”

At Wheels Up, Smith will oversee all aspects of the company’s global Finance organization. That includes Commercial Finance, Accounting, FP&A, Treasury, Tax and Investor Relations.

He will also join the company’s Executive Leadership Team.

Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. He resides in the Boston area with his family.

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