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Boeing Shakes Things Up A Little, Strips Its CEO of His Title

Boeing Shakes Things Up A Little, Strips Its CEO of His Title
Jeff Edwards

On Friday, the Boeing board of directors announced that Dennis Muilenburg, the company’s longtime Chairman, CEO, President, and Director will need to print new business cards. After months of resisting the move, the board acquiesced to shareholder pressure and removed the title of Chairman from Muilenburg’s job description following a closed-door meeting.

On its face, Boeing’s announcement on Friday sounds less like a management shakeup and more like organizational chart tidying. According to multiple news outlets, however, the move to strip Boeing Chairman, CEO, President and Director Dennis Muilenburg of his Chairmanship was a fraught decision accompanied by no small amount of drama – though company officials did not betray any indication of the palace intrigue behind the actions.

“The board said splitting the chairman and CEO roles will enable Muilenburg to focus full time on running the company as it works to return the 737 MAX safely to service, ensure full support to Boeing’s customers around the world, and implement changes to sharpen Boeing’s focus on product and services safety,” the company said in a release announcing the restructuring. “This decision is the latest of several actions by the board of directors and Boeing senior leadership to strengthen the company’s governance and safety management processes.”

The aerospace giant says current lead independent director, David Calhoun will assume Muilenburg’s former Chairmanship duties in the newly created position of non-executive Chairman. Calhoun took the opportunity of his promotion to voice his support for his predecessor who remains the company’s CEO, President, and Director.

“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” Calhoun said. “The board also plans in the near term to name a new director with deep safety experience and expertise to serve on the board and its newly established Aerospace Safety Committee.”

The New York Times reports that the decision to relieve Muilenburg from his Chairmanship was the result of months of pressure in the wake of the global grounding of the company’s 737 Max as the result of lingering safety concerns following back-to-back air disasters. The board already narrowly voted down a stockholder bid to strip Muilenburg of his Chairman title earlier this year, but with the Boeing Chief scheduled to testify before Congress in a few weeks, the board was under the gun to make any move well before the testimony (lest the decision appear to be motivated by political concerns). The announcement was made late Friday following a board meeting to which Muilenburg himself was not invited to attend.

Muilenburg, at least publicly, appears to be on board with the decision. He reiterated the talking points indicating that the move will allow him more time to focus on ushering the 737 Max program back to airworthiness.

“I am fully supportive of the board’s action,” he said of the decision. “Our entire team is laser-focused on returning the 737 MAX safely to service and delivering on the full breadth of our company’s commitments.”

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. edgewood49

    October 14, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    From what I am hearing due to the politics nothing is going to be done until they get the Max back in the air. Then we have 4th quarter earnings. Rumor something will more than likely happen first quarter 2020. everything happened on his watch and has to take the blame for what he has done to Boeing and US aircraft industry.

  2. Tailgater

    October 14, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Boeing—once a stalwart. I still can’t believe Boeing didn’t ground the plane after the first crash. But, then, it didn’t even ground the plane after the second crash. Only after much of the world grounded it did Boeing ground it finally. Company touted “safety.” Yeah, right, maybe Boeing should have waited for a third crash.

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