Lucie Guillemette honoured with 2024 W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement award

Lucie Guillemette, the former Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer for Air Canada and the President of Air Canada Vacations, was the recipient of the 2024 W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award.

Guillemette – who retired from Air Canada and its tour operator division last year but remains active in the aviation industry, having been elected to the NAV Canada Board of Directors in February — was presented with the award during Thursday night’s (June 20) Agents Choice Awards Gala in Toronto.

And while the annual award recognizes an individual’s personal achievements, Guillemette was quick to praise her former Air Canada colleagues, and others in the travel and aviation industries upon accepting her award at the Toronto ceremony.

She told the crowd of top industry executives: “I have had the privilege to call Air Canada home for close to 40 years, and thanks to all of you tonight, I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to leave a small mark on this industry, and to have been able to contribute in my own way to its progress.  I owe a great deal to the incredible leaders I have had the pleasure to work for, and who left a lasting impression.”

Of her team at Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, Guillemette said: “I share this very special recognition with them, because without their support and unwavering loyalty, I can unequivocally say I would not have progressed to the role of Chief Commercial Officer and President of ACV. Air Canada is lucky to have them.”

Making the industry better

She also had some kind words for those working in the industry who don’t fall under the Air Canada umbrella.

“Although I may have never, prior to retirement, said this openly — I truly admired and respected every competitor here tonight, and our respective resolve to win actually made our industry better, and as a result the travelling journey continuously improved for our customers,” she said.

And Guillemette continued: “I’m also thankful and appreciative of the support, partnership and friendship with the agency community and industry partners. Even when our commercial initiatives were less popular and met with some resistance, I could always count on your feedback and input, and for that I thank you.”

Addressing the evolution of the industry during her 40-year career, Guillemette observed: “I grew up in an industry that was in large part male dominated but there were many women in senior management roles at Air Canada, and also many women in the 1980s who were highly influential, and key decision makers in the industry. Lina de Cesare at Transat, Lise Fournel and Jackie Irvin at Air Canada, captain Judy Cameron, and of course Mrs. Baxter (affectionately called Mrs. B) here at Baxter Media to name a few, made great strides to pave the way for many of us, and showed us what was possible.”

And the result of that evolution, she said, is that today, numerous airlines and aviation-related companies are now run by women, telling the gathering: “So, for our young colleagues starting in our industry in the room tonight, it’s all possible for talented, motivated and hard-working individuals.”

It takes a village

Guillemette continued. “Bottom line, play to your strengths and embrace your weaknesses. Every failure teaches us something and every crisis, although unappreciated when you are knee deep in it, provides opportunities for meaningful step changes that lead to great progress.”

And she added: “It takes a village and an incredible amount of managerial courage but it’s all worth the effort when we can make this industry, we love, more prosperous, resilient and sustainable.”

In her introduction of Guillemette, Lisa Pierce, Vice President, Global Sales for Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, praised her former colleague, telling her audience: “Lucie is a Woman of Courage, Character and Compassion in both good times and challenging times.”

Courage, character, compassion… congratulations to Lucie Guillemette, the 2024 recipient of the W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement award

About the William H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award

Following his passing in April of 2004, the William H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award was established to honour the many and memorable accomplishments of W.H. Baxter, the founder of Baxter Media.

The award is presented to the individual who has:

  • Improved professional standards in the industry
  • Demonstrated successful innovation and entrepreneurial initiative
  • Enhanced the industry’s standing with the general public

Over the years, recipients of this prestigious award have included Judd Buchanan; John Powell; John McKenna; David Hardouin; Bruce Hodge; Josef Ebner; the founders of Transat — Jean-Marc Eustache, Lina De Cesare and Philippe Sureau; and Bruce Poon Tip.