April 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 11 
Straight Talk

A company on the move

James Bell
President and CEO

James BellMake no mistake about it: Boeing is on the move. The people of Boeing are helping our customers grow more competitive-and in the process are helping to make Boeing more competitive, too. I see people maintaining steady focus on executing our business plans so that we can meet our very challenging short- and long-term commitments.

In the last month or so, we've

  • Rolled out and test flown the longest-range commercial airliner-the 777-200LR, capable of connecting virtually any two cities in the world nonstop.
  • Rolled out and test flown one of the most highly sophisticated multirole fighters in the world today-the F-15K for the Republic of Korea.
  • Made new strides in network-centric operations and strengthened our position as a lead systems integrator.
  • Been cleared to compete for the next generation of rocket launch services for the U.S. Air Force.
  • Announced initial pricing for an important new market for Connexion by Boeing-high-speed Internet connectivity for the maritime market.
  • Received significant orders and commitments for commercial airplanes.
  • Adopted new, aggressive companywide financial performance goals.

To me, these accomplishments highlight the beauty and power of this company: More than 160,000 people come to work every day, do what only they can do, and do it really well.

I've been seeing the results for almost a year and a half, as I've participated in the deep-dive reviews of programs, businesses and functions. During this time, the company has consistently delivered strong growth and profitability and increased our return to shareholders more than 50 percent. We've made significant progress toward restoring our reputation with our government customer. And we have begun to move beyond merely responding to the marketplace; we are showing signs of having fundamentally changed and improved our approach to helping our customers solve their own competitive challenges. We are truly listening to our customers. And as we gain detailed customer knowledge and focus, we are learning what we need to know to shape markets.

My priority--in both of my jobs-is to ensure that we sustain Boeing's strong operational and financial performance as well as our business growth. Continuing that level of performance will require that we stay focused on the job at hand and not allow ourselves to be distracted by anything, particularly the speculation about who the next chief executive officer will be.

Chairman of the Board Lew Platt and I have been hearing a decent amount of input from employees who want to see their leaders become the next CEO. It's great that people have faith in their leaders. While the last thing we need is competing "campaigns," I've been telling employees that "The best thing you can do to support Boeing leaders is to focus on performance and help them meet the company's business commitments."

I have asked, and members of the Executive Council have readily agreed, that we will work together for the good of the company and that our focus will remain on running the business effectively.

Ultimately, employees--and that includes me-don't get to vote for the next CEO. That's a decision only the Board of Directors makes. The board has demonstrated over and over again that it will do what it considers best for the company.

From a business perspective, we're on the right course and following the right strategy. It's one of consistent, superior operational and financial performance, individual and team accomplishment, enterprisewide growth, personal development and a no-holds-barred commitment to integrity. This is a good company, with good people who are devoted to helping their customers succeed. This, in turn, is driving the value of shares of our stock.

At the same time, we can never be satisfied with where we are, because our competitors are making their own strides. We've got to operate lean, improve faster and understand our customers better than our competitors do. That's no easy task, but I know we can do it.

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