Boeing CEO: Evangelist of cleaner skies

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in Profiles in Leadership

Jim McNerney didn’t win the competition to succeed Jack Welch at General Electric in 2001, but he has proven a star as CEO at Boeing, the largest manu­facturer of commercial and military aircraft.

A networker, McNerney believes in organic growth rather than acquisitions. He prefers bet-the-company strategies that go after big, growing markets and exploit competitors’ weaknesses.

So where’s he headed now?

McNerney wants Boeing to lead in pushing regulators to curb the industry’s environmental impact.

Why would an industry executive seek out more regulation?

He gives three reasons:

  1. Reducing environmental damage is the right thing to do.
  2. Regulation will be a business opportunity because Boeing will enjoy a competitive advantage in compliance.
  3. Only through consistent, worldwide regulations will people reap the benefits of a cleaner industry.

“What I want to avoid is just mass confusion, where every country has a different carbon-trading scheme with different taxes,” he says. “I really want to push for harmonization.”

— Adapted from You Can’t Order Change, Peter S. Cohan, Portfolio.

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