3 CEOs Who Could Steer Boeing Back to Clear Skies


  • These three CEOs aren’t necessarily the highest-paid CEOs in America but they are capable of turning Boeing (BA) around. 
  • Larry Culp, GE Aerospace (GE): There is no second choice. 
  • John May, Deere & Company (DE): He has delivered for shareholders. 
  • Gord Johnston, Stantec (STN): The engineering background would be helpful.
Highest-paid CEOs - 3 CEOs Who Could Steer Boeing Back to Clear Skies

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In March, Boeing (NYSE:BA) CEO Dave Calhoun announced he would step down at the end of 2024 as part of the aircraft manufacturer’s management shake-up to fix what ails it. Some of the highest-paid CEOs in America will likely be considered for the role. 

What type of CEO does Boeing need to hire? Ryanair Holdings (NASDAQ:RYAAY) CEO Michael O’Leary believes it starts with the company’s operations in Seattle. That would suggest someone with a manufacturing background is a good choice for Boeing stock. 

The head of Emirates Airline, Tim Clark, believes the right CEO candidate combines an engineer’s background and business expertise. 

“Is it fixable and salvageable? Yes, it is. Will it get things back to where it needs to be? It must. And you’ll only do that with very strong leadership, who are fixated on doing the right thing,” Inc.com reported Clark’s comments from early June. 

To get this type of person, Boeing will definitely have to open its purse strings. Some of the highest-paid CEOs in America will be frontrunners for the job. 

Here are three names I’d toss into the CEO ring. 

Larry Culp, GE Aerospace (GE)

Company breakups: The General Electric GE logo on a building
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While I don’t think Larry Culp is going anywhere, the man who turned around GE Aerospace (NYSE:GE) by breaking it apart, selling off the less profitable businesses and taking charge of the former GE’s aircraft engine business, is the best person for the job and for BA stock. 

Culp joined GE’s board in April 2018, a little more than three years after stepping down as CEO of Danaher (NYSE:DHR) on March 1, 2015, staying on to help with the transition until Q1 2016. 

“Larry’s leadership during the last 13 years as CEO has been extraordinary. During Larry’s tenure, Danaher’s revenues and market capitalization have increased approximately five-fold to nearly $20 billion and $50 billion, respectively, while at the same time driving shareholder returns five times that of the S&P 500 Index,” stated Chairman Steven M. Rales in Danaher’s April 16, 2014 press release. 

Culp’s work growing Danaher into a much bigger business is precisely why the GE board pushed him into the CEO’s chair. GE stock is up 176% since he took over in October 2018. Add in all the spinoffs, and his work did plenty to reward shareholders.

Culp delivered for two firms over nearly 20 years as CEO. At only 61, he would be the perfect person to become Boeing’s CEO. Culp understands the issues Boeing faces because GE Aerospace sells a lot of engines to the aircraft manufacturer,  

He’s the best candidate bar none. 

John May, Deere & Company (DE)

Several John Deere vehicles are parked outside of a building.
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John C. May is the CEO of Deere & Company (NYSE:DE). He has been in the top job since November 2019, so his tenure is coming up on five years, the time successful CEOs start thinking about their next gig. 

May has been at Deere since 1997. After 27 years working at the manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment, he might not want to tackle a challenge as enormous as Boeing is. 

However, May has also been quite progressive, moving the company into automation and AI to keep it on top in the eyes of farmers and construction workers around the world. 

One big plus: May serves on Ford’s (NYSE:F) board, so he gets to see mass production at both companies. That makes him someone who should be able to understand some of the engineering problems that the company faces. 

As May’s bio states, Deere’s market cap has more than doubled since he came on board. DE has built up sales to $61 billion, considerably higher than when he took over in late 2019.

He would be an interesting hire for Boeing stock. 

Gord Johnston, Stantec (STN) 

Engineers in yellow jackets and hard hats looking at a laptop in a workshop

Gord Johnston is the CEO of Stantec (NYSE:STN), a Canadian company based in Edmonton. Johnston became CEO on January 1, 2018. 

“He has over 30 years of private and public sector experience in the design and project management of infrastructure projects throughout North America and abroad.” Johnston’s bio states

Stantec is a global leader in sustainable engineering, architecture and environmental consulting. It helps its infrastructure clients start and finish large projects. Possessing bachelor of science and master of engineering degrees in civil engineering from the University of Alberta, he would understand the engineering part of the job better than most. 

Given the relatively small size of Stantec — it has a market capitalization of $9.4 billion, considerably less than GE at $170.4 billion and Deere at $104.2 billion — it would be easy for Johnston to be overlooked among all the CEO superstars in America.

Stantec stock has appreciated by 220% since he became CEO, more than double the S&P 500. He has more than earned his CEO stripes. 

On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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