United CEO Got His Start at – Wait for It – Pepsi

The good news is, Oscar Munoz doesn’t work at the company that made the Kendall Jenner ad. The bad news is everything else

Last Updated: April 10, 2017 @ 5:35 PM

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz might be the boss of America’s most hated corporation as of today, after video of a bloodied passenger being forcibly dragged off a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday went viral.

That video dominating the airwaves and social media was undoubtedly a relief to PepsiCo, which produced a poorly-received commercial showing Kendall Jenner handing a police officer a can of soda in a scene inspired by a Black Lives Matter protest in Louisiana, making the company last week’s punching bag. But PepsiCo and United have something else in common: Munoz got his start at the soda company, working in various financial positions there between 1982 and 1986, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Munoz took over the top job at United in September 2015 after a 12-year career at railroad company CSX. He has been a United board member since 2004. His United tenure got off to an inauspicious start — Munoz suffered a heart attack on his 38th day on the job that sidelined him for months and required him to receive a heart transplant. However, Munoz recovered and has guided United through a profitable stretch for the company, with its stock price jumping nearly 30 percent since he took over.

United’s boss also has some Southern California connections. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1982 from the University of Southern California and picked up an M.B.A. in 1986 from Pepperdine University.

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