Boeing Says Conner to Replace Albaugh as Commercial Chief

Boeing's Ray Conner
Ray Conner, seen here as vice president and general manager of supply chain management and operations for Boeing Co. Photographer: Stephen Morton/Bloomberg

Boeing Co. said Jim Albaugh, president of its commercial-jet unit, is retiring and being replaced immediately by Ray Conner, the division’s sales chief.

Conner, 57, joined the planemaker in 1977 as a mechanic on the 727. A new vice president of sales will be named later, and Albaugh, 62, will continue to report to Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney and help with the transition until he leaves Oct. 1 after 37 years of service, Boeing said today.

“You can’t ask for a better leader to succeed Mr. Albaugh than who they’ve chosen,” said Howard Rubel, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in New York. Conner has “touched so many parts of the organization along the way, he’s been part of the change and he’s been part of the success, and he’s known what’s worked and what’s failed because he’s seen all sides.”

The move marks the second senior leadership shift this year at Chicago-based Boeing. Chief Financial Officer James Bell, 64, retired in what Robert Stallard, an RBC Capital Markets analyst in New York, called part of a “generational hand-over” at the planemaker. McNerney turns 63 in August.

Albaugh decided to leave after achieving his three stated goals, said John Dern, a Boeing spokesman. Those were: helping win a $35 billion U.S. Air Force tanker contract; overseeing the delayed commercial debuts of the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo jet; and securing a labor accord with Boeing’s biggest union.

Sales Leader

Conner replaced Marlin Dailey as sales chief last year, after AMR Corp. American Airlines ended years of ordering only Boeing jets to buy planes jets from Airbus SAS.

It was Conner’s second stint in that position, sandwiched around leading Boeing’s growing supply chain. Conner has also been in charge of the 777 and 747 programs and worked in sales in Asia and the Americas as well as in Boeing’s materiel unit.

Albaugh took over at the commercial unit in 2009, from the top spot he held at Boeing’s defense unit. He succeeded Scott Carson at Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes after five delays on the Dreamliner. McNerney said then that Albaugh was a “seasoned executive who doesn’t require a lot of hand holding.”

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