Has Boeing’s Search For a New CEO Hit Turbulence?

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner in flight.
Photo Credit: Boeing

Boeing’s hunt for a new leader to take the helm at the end of 2024 continues to navigate some unexpected turns. The recent departure of the initial frontrunner, David Gitlin, has left the Board considering a broader range of candidates.

Gitlin confirmed at a Quarter 1 earnings call for the US manufacturer that he was not seeking consideration to fill the CEO role.

This broader field of applicants potentially includes executives from Boeing’s key supplier network. This shift in focus signals a potential change in strategy for the Board.

Endorsement for Stephanie Pope

Initial reports suggested they were seeking a candidate with deeper Boeing experience, possibly someone like internal figure Stephanie Pope.

Pope has served as chief operating officer for the US plane manufacturer since January 2024.

Her tenure in the key position came just days before the manufacturer found itself amidst the Alaska Airlines inflight incident. This incident involving a 737 MAX 9 aircraft, put quality and safety issues squarely under the spotlight.

Troubled Times: Boeing Seeks to Rebuild Trust with U.S. Airlines
Photo Credit: Boeing.

According to a report in Fortune,  Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has been a strong backer of Stephanie Pope, who was recently tagged as the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes division in addition to her role as COO.

In her prior three decades at Boeing, Pope has held several other senior leadership positions at the corporate and program levels.

Has the Field Widened?

However, the current search for a replacement for the outgoing CEO Dave Calhoun seems more open to external candidates who could bring a fresh perspective.

Industry analysts believe the ideal candidate will possess a unique blend of skills. Deep understanding of aerospace engineering will be crucial.

Photo Credit: Boeing

Attendant with this will be experience in managing complex global supply chains and navigating the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.

Perhaps most importantly, the new CEO will need to be possessed of exceptional leadership qualities. It goes without saying the incoming CEO must rebuild trust and company culture after a period marked by safety incidents.

Analysts have named other key industry figures as potential candidates, alongside the internal pick of Stephanie Pope.

Names including GE Aerospace’s Larry Culp and Wesley Bush, formerly of Northrop Grumman have been bandied about, according to Business Standard.

The coming months will be crucial for Boeing’s Board. Selecting the right leader will be vital in guiding the company through continued recovery and ensuring its long-term success.

A focus on a well-rounded skillset may signal a willingness to consider both internal and external candidates.

Hopefully, Boeing may be charting a course for a smoother landing after first quarter fraught with difficulties.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
3 Min Read
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