Already a member? Log In

The End of the Jack Era

Dave Calhoun
Calhoun’s end at Boeing also signifies something even more profound than just the departure of another C.E.O.: It marks the end of the Jack Welch era in American business. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
March 27, 2024

The defenestration of Dave Calhoun, who will step down as the C.E.O. of Boeing by the end of 2024 after only four short years, gives our national champion aircraft manufacturer the chance it needs to reset following one mishap after another. Calhoun, of course, was hoping to fix the mistakes made by his predecessors—in particular, the embarrassing and deadly mishaps related to the 737 Max jet—but he was not able to do it sufficiently before another series of flubs occurred, exacerbating his hasty departure. His critics have not been kind. “Just what did Calhoun think he was accomplishing during his four year tenure as Boeing’s C.E.O. fixer?” Mark Cohen, a professor at Columbia Business School, my alma mater, asked me rhetorically on Monday. “He accomplished nothing.” 

It’s hard to argue with Cohen. Boeing’s stock has fallen roughly 50 percent during Calhoun’s tenure at the company. Something had to change. And Calhoun’s exit, along with the chairman of the board of directors and the head of the commercial airplane division, turned out to be the change that was needed.