David Calhoun laid out his priorities for the year in a letter on Monday to Boeing employees as the former GE executive formally assumed the role of president and CEO of the U.S. aerospace giant. As expected, his first concern lies with returning the 737 Max to service. “We’ll get it done, and we’ll get it done right,” he proclaimed.
Calhoun also called for an effort to rebuild trust among the company’s “stakeholders,” focus on values, operate with excellence, maintain production health, and invest in the future, including achieving the conclusion of Boeing’s planned Embraer partnership.
Calhoun moves into the chief executive’s office at perhaps the most critical time in Boeing’s history, and just days after the release of more than a hundred damning emails and instant messages between employees expressing contempt for management and regulators.
The messages expose efforts within the organization to obscure potential complications with the new flight-control system blamed for the crashes of two 737 Max jets within the span of five months, resulting in the death of 346 people and the worldwide grounding of the model.
“Many of our stakeholders are rightly disappointed in us, and it’s our job to repair these vital relationships,” said Calhoun of the trust repair exercise. “We’ll do so through a recommitment to transparency and by meeting and exceeding their expectations. We will listen, seek feedback, and respond—appropriately, urgently, and respectfully.”
Calhoun, 62, assumes the chief executive’s role from Greg Smith, who took over as interim CEO from the ousted Dennis Muilenburg.
Calhoun’s resume shows various senior leadership roles within several large-scale enterprises including at the Blackstone Group, Nielsen Holdings, and GE. During his 26-year tenure at GE, he led multiple business units including GE Transportation and GE Aircraft Engines. He has served on the Boeing board of directors since 2009 and served as chairman from October 11 to December 22, 2019.