SMU CCPA alumnus and rising star at Southwest Airlines, Derek Hubbard reflects on what has led to his personal and professional success.

Derek Hubbard, director of External Communications at Southwest Airlines
Derek Hubbard, Southwest Airlines

Like many high-achieving students, Derek Hubbard did it all during his time on the Hilltop. He was a Hunt Scholar, student representative to the Development & External Affairs and Student Affairs Committees of the Board of Trustees, served on Student Senate, and participated in multiple extracurriculars. He graduated from SMU in May of 2012 with a B.A. in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs and Spanish. After graduation, he joined the Southwest Airlines Social Business team.

While COVID raged and the airline industry suffered, Derek thrived. According to Laurie Barnett, Managing Director, Communications & Outreach at Southwest Airlines, Hubbard was promoted to Manager of External Communications, managing a combined group of Southwest’s Branded Partnerships & Entertainment and Organic Social Media Team. The newly combined group focuses on breaking through the clutter to reach stakeholders through the curation of unique stories with meaningful and personalized engagements that tap into the passions of external stakeholders and incorporate Southwest into relevant and respected venues. This new combined team will create long-form and tightly packaged content that harnesses new and existing channels to extend Southwest’s brand reach and build customer loyalty.

In addition, Hubbard actively participated in shaping Southwest Airline’s corporate response to the racial injustice crisis and continues to be a sought-after thought leader. He facilitated a conversation with their 120 Communications and Outreach Team on racial justice.  He also started his own Wednesday night Instagram conversation on the subject. Clearly this CCPA alum is making a positive difference.

Derek’s Key Takeaways

We asked Derek, after nine years in the communication field, what advice he would offer CCPA students about to graduate.

  • Bloom where you’re planted
    • Derek explained, “This isn’t about passing growth or being unambitious, but it is about taking the opportunity you are given and understanding that you have a role to play wherever you are.”
  • Stress as little as possible post-graduation.
    • “With social media, there is more pressure than ever to be at a specific place at a specific time.”
    • “You will get where you are supposed to be quicker and with fewer objectives, if you don’t worry about what everyone else is doing,” Derek said.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you want and need.
    • Derek had a job offer in London post-graduation from SMU in financial communication. He turned it down because he knew that was not what he wanted nor where he wanted to be.
  • Recognize the difference between people giving you advice and telling you what to do.

Congratulations Derek Hubbard. Your CCPA family is excited to follow your success.