Jim McNerney, Boeing’s nomad clean-up man

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Jim McNerney holds the dubious record of being Boeing’s third chairman and chief executive in as many years. Yesterday, in one of the busiest since he stepped into the job last July, he announced good numbers, a bulging order book and sweeping changes to restore the ethical reputation at the scandal-hit planemaker.

Few people envied McNerney when he took the reins of the $52 billion aerospace company with more than 153,000 employees after its corporate image had been shattered with a series of revelations, including illicit relationships with Pentagon officials and the sacking of his predecessor for having an affair with a company employee.

Ever since getting his master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1975, 56 year old McNerney has been a corporate nomad.  He has relocated every two to three years, job-hopping his way up the ladder – starting as a brand manager for P&G’s Downy fabric softener, to McKinsey & Co, to General Electric where he spent 19 years before joining to 3M  where he was chairman and chief executive.

McNerney has a reputation for being a ‘numbers man’ who sets his people productivity and financial goals….he is also a strict disciplinarian who sets his own unyielding standards for everyone else.

These were just the qualitities Boeing needed a year ago – morever he was familiar with the company and its problems, having sat on its board as a non-executive director.

Given his ambition and wanderlust, Boeing probably won’t be his last stop.

 

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