When Jeffrey H. Boyd, ’81, applied to Cornell Law School, it was with a romanticized idea of litigation shaped by courtroom dramas like “Perry Mason” and “LA Law.” His own experiences have turned out to be far more varied and wide-ranging, as he recounted during a discussion with Eduardo M. Peñalver, Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, at the Dean’s Office presentation “From 1L to the C Suite: Reflections on Two Decades of Leading a Travel Industry Giant” at the Law School on October 1, 2019.
Boyd is the chairman and past president and CEO of Booking Holdings, formerly the Priceline Group, which runs Priceline.com and other popular travel websites. His journey there began at Wall Street firm Sullivan & Cromwell, where, during his second year of associateship, he cut his teeth in business development as one of two lawyers tasked with establishing the firm’s office in Melbourne, Australia.
He later worked as general counsel at Oxford Health Plans – and found himself helping to steer the company through a nearly fatal crisis. Later on, that experience with corporate turnaround equipped him to take on the role of COO at Priceline, where he had once again been working as general counsel, when that company faced its own struggles. Now retired from his subsequent position as CEO, Boyd has used his free time to buy a small fly-fishing business and guide it into online retail.
Asked by Peñalver what his favorite type of work has been, Boyd observed, “There is nothing more rewarding than to work with a group of people – whom you like and trust, with whom you have shared values and strong work ethic – to, as a team, accomplish something good[…] That can happen in a law firm; that can happen in a company; that can happen in a fishing store.”