Brian West

Boeing has named Brian West, a former General Electric executive and colleague of CEO Dave Calhoun, to lead its finance department.

West will succeed Greg Smith, who is retiring next month after helping steer Boeing through the twin crises of the 737 Max grounding and the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Investors and current and former Boeing executives considered Mr. Smith to be a steady hand through the company’s recent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated demand for new aircraft,” The Wall Street Journal said. “His successor was considered a key appointment.”

West is currently CFO at financial markets data provider Refinitiv, which he joined in 2018 from Oscar Health Insurance. He previously worked at Nielsen Holdings when Calhoun was the market-research company’s CEO.

“Brian is the ideal executive to serve as Boeing’s next CFO given his significant financial management and long-term strategic planning experience in complex global organizations across the aerospace, manufacturing, and services industries,” Calhoun said in a news release.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Brian previously, and he is an exceptional leader whose broad operational expertise and commitment to transparency with stakeholders will advance our efforts as we continue our focus on safety and quality, improving our performance, and transforming our company for the future,” he added.

West and Calhoun also worked together at General Electric. West was with the conglomerate from 1990 to 2007, serving as CFO of GE Aviation and GE Engine Services, while Calhoun left it in 2006 after 26 years. West then joined Calhoun at Nielsen in 2007.

“Former executives from the Jack Welch era of GE leadership, including former CEO Jim McNerney and current CEO Calhoun, have for many years been a core part of Boeing’s leadership and helped shape the culture that has prioritized protecting the company’s financials and the stock price,” The Seattle Times said.

According to the Times, Smith was the most powerful Boeing executive after the CEO, and “Boeing seems to want West also to fill a larger role than CFO, saying he will ‘oversee the company’s business transformation efforts.’”

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