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Boeing promotion of Pope could be stepping stone to CEO

Boeing named Stephanie Pope as chief operating officer on Monday, elevating the longtime company executive as a potential successor to David Calhoun as CEO. Pope, 51, is the current head of Boeing Global Services. She will step into the newly-created post of executive vice president and chief operating officer on January 1, reporting to Calhoun, the company announced in a press release. “Stephanie brings tremendous operational, financial and customer experience to this role,” Calhoun said in a statement. He added that her promotion comes in a “significant transitional year,” with Boeing working to “restore our operational and financial strength.” “Stephanie will help drive the stability and predictability necessary to ensure we deliver on our customer, employee, regulatory, investor and other stakeholder commitments,” he said. The appointment means the head of Boeing’s commercial and defense businesses, as well as the chief engineer and a successor at Global Services, will all report to Pope. The move comes as Boeing eyes the 2025-26 period as a turning point where it hopes to pivot to better operational performance and profitability after the travails of recent years. Calhoun was tapped as CEO in December 2019 to replace Dennis Muilenburg, who was widely criticized for his handling of two deadly 737 MAX crashes. After a lengthy grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has struggled to maintain elevated production on its best-selling planes due to supply chain and manufacturing problems. In April 2021, Boeing raised the retirement age for Calhoun to 70, allowing him to potentially serve as CEO through 2028. In nearly three decades at Boeing, Pope has held senior roles in finance in defense and space, as well as commercial, where she had “responsibility for the financial management and strategic, long-range business planning,” according to her company biography. Pope’s background in strategy and finance makes her “very appealing to shareholders and the Wall Street community,” said Michel Merluzeau, director of aerospace and defense analysis at AIR consultancy. Monday’s appointment “strongly suggests she’s definitely the top contender” to be the next CEO, Merluzeau said.

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