Boeing Appoints A New Communications Leader After CEO Quits

After a day that saw Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg quit, Boeing’s board of directors said the move “was necessary to restore confidence,” in the planemaker.

The Seattle planemaker announced the appointment of a new communications leader as it looks to restore the public’s confidence in the company.

Boeing appoints a former Navy pilot as a communications leader. Photo: Steve Lynes via Wikipedia Commons

61-year-old Niel Golightly will replace retiring company’s senior vice president of communications, Anne Toulouse, effective January 13th. Initially, Golightly will report to Boeing interim CEO Greg Smith and then to President and CEO David Calhoun when he takes up his new job at the company’s headquarters in Chicago.

Golightly used to be a Navy fighter pilot

When speaking about the new appointment in a company statement, Smith said:

“Niel is a world-class communications professional with deep knowledge, expertise, and relationships acquired over an accomplished career in both the private and public sectors,”  adding”Importantly, he shares our values of safety, quality, and integrity, and as a former Navy fighter pilot, Niel brings a deep passion for aerospace and Boeing’s mission. We are excited to welcome Niel to the team as we work together to safely return the 737 MAX to service, restore trust with our key stakeholders around the globe, and continue to build our future.”

Golightly has 25 years of experience in the communications and strategy field having worked for Royal Dutch Shell the Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

Golightly used to work for Fiat-Chrysler. Photo: Altair78 Wikipedia

While in his last job with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles he served as the automaker’s global chief communications officer.

In that role, Golightly was responsible for all the car maker’s corporate communications and media relations working alongside the company’s leadership team.

Golightly studied at Cornell University

Before the media and communications expert entered the private sector, he received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Cornell University and followed it up by studying at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

When he finished with his studies, Golightly joined the United States Navy where he served as a fighter pilot and later as a speechwriter for Secretary of the Navy and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Given Boeing’s continuing struggles following two fatal crashes and the grounding of their best-selling Boeing 737 MAX in March, the planemaker will be looking for Golightly to help restore public confidence.

Just last week, Boeing announced that it was going to halt the production of the 737 MAX while it worked with aviation regulators around the world to certify the plane’s safety.

Boeing decided that a change of leadership was needed

In a statement from Boeing carried by the BBC the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer said:

“The board of directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.”

The move to replace all the top people at Boeing comes after the company was accused by lawmakers of prioritizing profit over safety by selling the MAX to customers while knowing that the aircrafts MCAS system was flawed.

Boeing hopes that Golightly can help to restore public confidence. Photo: pjs2005 Wikimedia Commons

In their statement regarding Mr. Muilenburg stepping down, Boeing is looking to regain their customers and the public’s trust.

“Under the company’s new leadership, Boeing will operate with a renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA [Federal Aviation Authority], other global regulators and its customers,” it said.

It is easy to see why Boeing has made the changes and how they will hope that Mr.Golightly can help undo the harm to the Boeing image. Time, of course, will tell whether or not he will be successful, but it would appear as if Boeing knew that their current leadership had to go.