By John Kell and Alan Murray
June 24, 2015

Jim McNerney’s departure after a decade as CEO of Boeing signals stability, not change, at the aircraft company. The new CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, has been groomed for the job since 2013, and McNerney will stay on for a time as chairman to ensure continuity. That’s an improvement from the company’s last succession, when CEO Harry Stonecipher was forced to resign due to an improper relationship with a female executive.


The Boeing move marks the end of another chapter in the extraordinary CEO succession drama started by GE’s Jack Welch fifteen years ago. Welch set up a competition between three very talented executives – McNerney, Bob Nardelli, and Jeff Immelt – to replace him. He convinced his board to give all three massive stock option awards, promising they only would have to make good on one – the winner’s. The other two men would leave, and use those awards as bargaining chips in their next jobs.


That’s exactly what happened. Nardelli negotiated a rich package at Home Depot that eventually fed the controversy leading to his ouster. He later served briefly as CEO of Chrysler. McNerney was hired as CEO of 3M before trading that in for the Boeing job (which he won over Boeing insider Alan Mulally, who went on to become the highly successful CEO of Ford.) For those keeping score, McNerney had compensation of $29 million last year, while Immelt made $18.8 million.


But Immelt wins the longevity award. At 14 years and counting, there’s no sign he’s going anywhere. Check out his recent interview with Fortune’s Pattie Sellers here.


Immelt will be speaking next month at our Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, along with the CEO’s of companies including CVS, Best Buy, Flextronics, and Workday, and startups including Slack, Birchbox, Pinterest and HomeAway. Stay tuned to the CEO Daily for highlights.




Alan Murray


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