Jim McNerney (MBA 1975) is the retired chairman of the Boeing Company and is a 2016 recipient of an HBS Alumni Achievement Award. In this video he discusses his experience as a leader of two of America’s top companies and the lessons he hopes to pass on to others.
“After McKinsey, I went to GE. Everything that GE did, I had a chance to be a part of.
“I tend to be a pretty optimistic person. For example, I left GE not getting the top job. But I understand how these things work. So my effort starting the next day was focused on, ‘Hey, what company am I going to go run now.’ You just have to approach these things positively.
“Boeing is a great, great company, and I wanted a big challenge. The company was staggering; I firmly believed it could be redirected. It’s a very important company to the country. It’s important in terms of the technological development it brings to our economy. And it’s a symbol of America around the world.
“It’s a good time to leave. It’s the right time for the company that I leave. I will be doing things; some will be in the public sector—hospitals, universities—doing some teaching. I think you can teach leadership, and you can provide experiences that bring leadership out of people.”
(Published September 2016)
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