In mid-November, Harry C. Stonecipher was working on his golf game in Florida. By Dec. 1 he was back in Chicago, running Boeing Co. In some ways, Stonecipher, 67, never really left. He retired as president and vice-chairman in 2002 but retained his board seat and, some say, considerable influence over other directors. When Chairman and CEO Phil Condit resigned after several procurement scandals, it was not surprising that Stonecipher was the man tapped to stabilize the company.
Known for being blunt and bottom-line oriented, Stonecipher needs to reassure the Pentagon and Congress that Boeing's ethics scandals are behind it. Another goal: to ink the $18 billion deal to build aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force. He has already greenlighted the new 7e7 jetliner -- a risky project aimed at regaining the commercial aviation lead from Airbus. The former McDonnell-Douglas exec is known to relish a good challenge. Lucky thing.
When the board of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) installed James R. Cantalupo, 60, as chairman and CEO a year ago to replace Jack M. Greenberg, he was widely seen as being as fresh as a week-old hamburger bun. On retiring in 2001, he had spent 27 years at Big Mac, most recently as vice-chairman as sales and profits skidded. But thanks to hot new products, U.S. store sales have shot up eight months in a row. Now comes his next test: overcoming the mad cow scare in the U.S.
William H. Donaldson, 72, who came out of retirement a year ago to head the Securities & Exchange Commission, has proven to be more than just an interim caretaker. The former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange compelled the Big Board to come clean about executive compensation. He's pressing for modest hedge-fund regulation. He also wants to make it easier for share-holders to nominate directors.
Donaldson has taken barbs for failing to police mutual funds. But after a slow start, he is pushing reforms.
For former Citigroup (C) co-Chairman John S. Reed, the good life ended abruptly last September. After losing a power struggle with Sandy Weill at Citigroup, Reed, 64, was enjoying a blissful retirement on an island off the coast of France when suddenly he was called back to be interim chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, replacing Dick Grasso.
Reed's proposals to revamp governance at the NYSE received a tepid reception from investors. But his plan to split power is in place: Goldman, Sachs & Co. (GS) President John A. Thain was appointed exchange CEO on Dec. 18. Reed remains chairman, for now.
What does a Silicon Valley hotshot know about making cell phones? Motorola (MOT) Inc. is about to find out. Ed-ward J. Zander, the former No. 2 at Sun Microsystems (SUNW) Inc., was named on Dec. 16 as chairman and CEO. The 56-year-old, who left Sun more than a year ago, is the first outsider to lead Motorola. Zander will need all his sales savvy to turn around the communications equipment giant, which lost its cell phone leadership to Nokia (NOK) Corp. in the 1990s and now faces an assault from Asian newcomers.