Boeing disclosed a series of executive shifts today, possibly signaling the beginning of the succession process that will anoint Chairman James McNerney’s successor. The head of the company’s defense unit, Dennis Muilenburg, was promoted to Corporate Vice Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer, which would appear to make him the leading internal candidate to follow McNerney in the top job. He will be replaced as head of the $33 billion defense unit by military-aircraft chief Chris Chadwick, while Chadwick will be succeeded atop the aircraft business by logistics veteran Shelly Lavender — who thereby becomes the most senior female executive in the company. Muilenburg’s rise reflects his impressive performance in sustaining Boeing defense revenues despite a multiyear softening in Pentagon demand, plus a recognition of his unusually energetic and focused management style. Of all the senior executives in Boeing, he is the one who has seemed most temperamentally suited to continuing the Boeing renaissance sparked by Mr. McNerney’s tenure. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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