The Last Word: Paul Puopolo on DFW Airport’s First Innovation Week

“This is how we do it.”

Paul Puopolo
EVP of Innovation
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
.…on the airport’s first Innovation Week, August 22-25, via LinkedIn.  

Here's "who said what" in Dallas Innovates Every Day.Beginning today, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is hosting its first-ever Innovation Week—a four day-event promoting “a culture of innovation, discovery, and engagement.” The week will include speaker panels, education sessions, workshops, and tech demos to celebrate what Puopolo calls the “the everyday innovator.”

The timing of #IW22 is right for Puopolo: Today marks his four-year anniversary at DFW Airport. In his time there, he’s helped the airport put North Texas on the global map as a Life Science hub, along with innovations like testing mobile baggage robots and LG customer service robots

We’ve come a long way from a team of one to an integrated innovation function (including strategy, process, portfolio, training, tool kit, and tech talks),” he writes on LinkedIn, with a hat tip to the team for perseverance and accomplishments on their collective innovation journey.”

One commenter, Paul DeNagy, co-founder and board leader of Frisco-based Internet of Things America, notes that “innovation at airports is paramount for an enhanced passenger experience.” And, he writes, “both security and supply chain enhancements will continue to make that airport of the future so critical.”

In May, we published a story about Puopolo’s discussions about how the airport is incorporating innovation, while still maintaining daily operations at one of the world’s busiest airports.

“Everybody loves (the concept of) innovation, but when you actually start to do it, it becomes more of a challenge,” Puopolo said to about 30 members of the DRC’s Innovation Task Force. “But we realize that as an organization, we have to change the way we think. The old way of doing things isn’t going to keep up with where the market is going.”

For more on what’s new and next in North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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R E A D   N E X T

  • Last year, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport partnered with Dallas-based Turn Compost to collect and haul food waste from terminal concessions. Since March 2021, 60 tons have been composted. Community farms and gardens including Bonton Farms, F.A.R.M., Misty Moon Farms, and many others benefit from donated animal feed and compost.

  • Engaging in passionate debates “sounds pretty typical if you’re a tech company,” said DFW Airport Executive Vice President of Innovation Paul Puopolo. “But if you’re a large, regulated organization—healthy debate, that’s different." Having people around the table is one thing, he says. Getting them to challenge each other and not be offended, well, that’s another thing. "To do innovation effectively, you’ve got to have healthy conflict," Puopolo said.

  • Dallas Startup Week—The DEC Network’s annual flagship event, sponsored by Capital One—had its kickoff party Sunday at The Star in Frisco. You'll find 100+ events and sessions running Monday through Thursday, August 8-11, both online and in person at SMU’s Cox School of Business. Here you'll find Dallas Innovates' handy, one-sheet guide to each day of DSW.

  • Five local winners received up to $200,000 in funding to activate their solutions throughout North Texas.

  • DFW*ATW 2021 President Shanthi Rajaram

    The DFW Alliance of Technology and Women held its 19th annual Executive Forum last week, urging attendees to "crack the courage code" and empower women in business. Afterward, DFW*ATW's president, Shanthi Rajaram, spoke with Dallas Innovates about her takeaways from the event—and how being "comfortable with the unknown" helped her start her own entrepreneurship journey.