2018 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Matthew D. Crowley, C.M.

Oct. 1, 2018

Matthew D. Crowley, C.M.
Chief Information Officer
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Age: 32

  • Alma Mater: Case Western Reserve University
  • Favorite Aircraft: Antonov An-225 Mriya
  • Favorite Book: The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger
  • Favorite TV Show: Stargate SG-1
  • Favorite Movie: Dr. Strangelove
  • Favorite Hobbies: Camping, (ethical) hacking, walking our dog Ernie

When Matthew Crowley moved back to his hometown of Cleveland, a job opportunity opened up at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) that changed his career.

Crowley was doing consultant work when he took a job as CIO with Cleveland and he quickly feel in love with the industry.

“Airports are one of the few places you can go that customers genuinely want to be there,” he said. “You go to the airport and every day you see happy people traveling.”

Crowley started his career as a software engineer, first at Microsoft developing Internet Explorer and then co-founding a software development business in Washington, D.C. He also worked as an author, a computer science professor, and an enterprise consultant.

He joined the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) as its first chief information officer in 2017.

"Airports represent complex infrastructure at small scale — cities within cities," Crowley said. "The breadth of infrastructure and operational requirements have allowed me to break out of my traditional verticals and participate in diverse areas of the business that I never would have imagined."

Crowley sat down with each employee during his first few weeks at PHL and asked what they saw themselves working on and what their passions were. What came next was a complete reorganization and training investment in the current staff, promoting help desk service employees to their first engineering positions, funding classes and certification exams and letting everyone find their niche.
Not only has staff morale improved the productivity of the technology teams has significantly increased.

At CLE, he and his team designed and developed the airport’s digital wayfinding, checkpoint wait time monitoring, and shuttle tracking systems from scratch, helping to contribute to CLE’s award for ACI-NA’s most improved airport.

At PHL, he is helping create its first business intelligence program and developing systems and datasets alongside the engineering team. Crowley has become a champion for innovation at PHL, in the city and across airports.

Crowley is also building a bimodal technology group that balances long-term infrastructure growth with a fail-fast approach to innovative concepts. This includes looking holistically at ROI across all potential technology projects, including in-house software development and no-technology solutions for operational needs.

Crowley is leading PHL’s strategic plan initiatives and building the airport’s first innovation scorecard to quantify the organization’s innovation maturity over time. He is working with local universities and startups to set up PHL’s first innovation program. He insists that innovation should not be looked at as purely a technology venture but a strategic mindset, and he is encouraging each group, from procurement to custodial, to think of novel ways to improve operations.