– Develop better managers
– Improve performance
– Improve employee engagement


Hong Kong




23,000 employees

Meet the team


Jesse Lui
Learning Manager

As Learning Manager at Cathay Pacific, Jesse Lui devises new ways to grow and develop leaders in alignment with the company’s ethos of authentic service, delivering straight from the heart.

To help leaders understand the realities of customer service work, and the challenges facing frontline employees, Jesse’s team wanted to give leaders first hand experience in customer-facing roles.

I was surprised by how quickly our leaders translated fresh empathy insights into creative improvement initiatives.
— Jesse Lui


Cathay Pacific’s frontline employees are the face of the airline, interacting with tens of thousands of customers across the globe each day. Their passion, hard work and professionalism help to deliver the award-winning customer experience that makes Cathay Pacific one of the world’s top airlines. 

To help bring leaders closer to the customer and increase engagement in their customer service teams, Cathay Pacific wanted to give senior leaders, who don’t often get to interact firsthand with customers, the opportunity to work hands-on in a frontline role. 

They didn’t just want this to be symbolic, or chance to chat with customers. They wanted leaders doing real, roll up your sleeves work in order to gain authentic personal insights and build empathy, both with customers and the customer service teams.

Jesse’s team identified several customer-facing roles for the initiative, ranging from on the ground jobs like check-in, lounge and boarding gate to behind-the-scenes teams like social media and phone response, and even in the air supporting the cabin crew.

By actually working shifts in these roles, leaders would gain insights into the customers’ needs as well as the challenges faced by frontline employees. 



Informative and easy to book

Willow partnered with Cathay Pacific to design and develop a user-friendly booking site where leaders could go to explore the various experiences available and book a shift for their preferred date and time. 

The site contains detailed information and briefing materials, including any training they might be required to do (also bookable through the site) leaders are able to prepare in advance of their shifts. By clarifying the program objectives and expectations, leaders and frontline employees alike can gain the maximum benefits from the experience.

Most importantly, the site is modelled on the Cathay Pacific flight booking experience, down to the exact wording used – truly putting leaders in customers’ shoes.


Leaders invited


Shifts booked (so far)


Hours firsthand experience

Learning from the experiences

The program site is managed through a custom, purpose-built CMS that allows the team at Cathay Pacific to create new shifts, upload supporting materials like as shift briefing guides and procedures and set capacity limits to prevent overbooking.   

In addition to booking and executing customer service shifts, they also wanted leaders to reflect on and learn from their experiences in order for the program to have real impact. Once a shift is complete, leaders complete a short survey reflection to capture and share what they’ve learned. Beyond just rating the experience, Jesse’s team is able to collect and share real-time learnings about customers, the frontline customer experience, and how it can be improved for customers and employees alike.

Willow also provides a quick snapshot of participants’ interactions – how often they return, participate and book shifts – so that the Cathay team can easily keep track of bookings.

The pilot with 40 leaders was met with an overwhelmingly positive response and has succeeded in building empathy between Cathay’s leaders and those in customer facing roles. Following the pilot, the initiative has recently launched to 150 leaders in Hong Kong, with an international rollout planned for the near future.



  • Increased empathy for customers and customer service staff
  • Increased customer service engagement
  • Increased agility in responding to customer and employee needs
  • Greater visibility into the day to day operations for leaders
  • Perfectly aligned with the Cathay Pacific website booking experience