Top Boeing executive weighs in on qualities the next CEO should have as the search for a new boss takes more twists and turns

Boeing Brian West CFO

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Brian West shared what traits the next chief executive should bring as the aerospace giant looks for someone to replace outgoing CEO David Calhoun.

In a note distributed to investors on Thursday, JPMorgan analysts recounted a recent meeting they had with West, who joined the company in August 2021. He was asked what qualities he personally thinks a new CEO should have. While noting that selecting a CEO is the board’s decision, he highlighted two things.

“One is an appreciation and respect for the history and culture of the company and an ability to win the support of the machinists and engineers who design and build its products,” the note said. “The second is being comfortable with operational cadences.”

JPMorgan views West’s stated appreciation for operations as a reflection of Boeing’s primary objective over the next few years: delivering its aircraft backlog to customers.

When asked by Fortune if Boeing had any comment, a representative said the company had nothing to add.

West’s remarks come as the search for a new CEO has taken some twists and turns recently. In March, Boeing announced that Calhoun would step down at the end of 2024. Stephanie Pope was also appointed to lead the commercial aircraft division, replacing Stan Deal.

But last month, David Gitlin, chief of Carrier Global and a Boeing director since mid-2022, exited the race for the top job. That’s after he appeared to be the front-runner.

Meanwhile, on the same day Gitlin dropped out of the running, Calhoun expressed strong support for the top internal candidate, Pope. But sources told Fortune’s Shawn Tully that new Boeing Chairman Steven Mollenkopf and other board members are interested in an outsider with strong industry experience.

Emerging on the short list of candidates is Pat Shanahan, who is the CEO of Boeing supplier and fuselage contractor Spirit AeroSystems, Tully reported.

That comes as Boeing is eyeing a potential acquisition of Spirit as it seeks to gain greater control over the production process. According to JPMorgan’s note, West indicated that Spirit is making good progress improving operations at its Wichita plant.

Earlier this year, Boeing stopped accepting incomplete or non-conforming fuselages, which may have contributed to quality issues like the kind that resulted in a panel on an Alaska Airlines flight coming off in midair.

West also told JPMorgan that there’s time to decide on how to finance any deal because it may take nine months to a year to close, with the company’s financial picture changing if cash flow and 737 production pick up in the second half of the year.

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