Dan Bigman

Dan Bigman
Dan Bigman is Editor and Chief Content Officer of Chief Executive Group, publishers of Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, ChiefExecutive.net and Boardmember.com. Previously he was Managing Editor at Forbes and the founding business editor of NYTimes.com.

Jefferies CEO: To Save Economy, Washington Must Backstop Mid-Market U.S. Businesses....

A straightforward plan for keeping businesses alive and people employed, with the cost ultimately borne by the private sector, but financed for a time by government.

Marillyn A. Hewson, 2018 CEO of The Year, Steps Aside at...

[caption id="attachment_66061" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Marillyn Hewson at the 2018 CEO of the Year Event, at the United Nations in New York City. Photo credit: Ben Hider Marillyn Hewson at the 2018 CEO of the Year Event, at the United Nations in New York City. Photo credit: Ben Hider[/caption] Defense giant Lockheed Martin announced this morning that Marillyn A. Hewson, its longtime CEO, would turn over the top job to board member and American Tower CEO James Taiclet and become executive chairman of the board, effective June 15. Hewson, who took the reins in 2014, led Lockheed and its 100,000 employees through the most spectacular period of growth in the company’s history, including the successful rollout of the F-35, the largest-ever U.S. defense program. In 2018 she was named our Chief Executive of the Year by a committee of her peers. Read complete interview. The selection committee cited her performance leading the company through an era of profound political and technological change—which has had an outsized impact on Lockheed’s operations. They also highlighted her work to improve STEM education, grow the nation’s pipeline of highly skilled labor and improve diversity in the technology industry. “Marillyn has demonstrated exceptional leadership, proving to be an exceptional role model and exceptional person—something we need in business, especially today,” Mark Weinberger, then-CEO of EY and a member of the selection committee, said at the time. Tamara Lundgren, CEO, Schnitzer Steel, added: “Marillyn has led her company with tremendous vision and integrity, and the results have shown through both financial and operation performance as well as the diversity and loyalty of the people she leads.” The daughter of a struggling single mother of five (her father died of a heart attack when she was 9), Hewson grew up in Alabama and earned her bachelor’s and master’s (in economics) at the University of Alabama. After school, she worked as an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics before joining Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, plant as an industrial engineer in 1983. She was usually the only woman in the room at meetings. Over the next three decades, she worked her way up through the company and held leadership positions in four of the company’s five divisions. "I know it is the right time to transition the leadership of Lockheed Martin,” Hewson said in a statement issued by the company today. “The corporation is strong, as evidenced by our outstanding financial results last year and a record backlog of business. We have a bright future – particularly with Jim and our outstanding leadership team at the helm. I'm pleased the board agreed with my recommendation. As Lockheed Martin's next CEO, Jim will lead the company forward in its next phase of growth and value creation." Taiclet is no stranger to the aerospace and defense industry. Prior to American Tower, which he joined in 2001, he served as president of Honeywell Aerospace Services and VP of engine services at Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies. He also worked as a McKinsey consultant specializing in telecommunications and aerospace. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and served as pilot in the U.S. Air Force, including a tour of duty during the Gulf War. "I'm honored to be asked to succeed one of the most respected CEOs in America. While serving on Lockheed Martin's board, I've not only been impressed by the company's continued growth as a leader in aerospace & defense but also by the dedication and commitment of Marillyn and Lockheed Martin employees to deliver for its customers," Taiclet said in a company statement. "As a military veteran, I understand the mission of this great company to provide global security and innovative solutions for the brave men and women who protect our freedom."

The SaaS Tax

There’s plenty to like about cloud-based subscription solutions, including access to high-end tech. But there's also plenty to be wary of.

Stronger From The Coronavirus Crisis

Rather than just muddling through, CEOs and directors should see coronavirus as a chance for their companies to act with integrity and prove to all their stakeholders that they can weather a storm.

Jack Welch Webinar: ‘In a Business, There Are Two Measurements That...

Jack Welch, the legendary chief executive who transformed General Electric into one of the most successful companies of the last century during his tenure died today according to media reports. He was 84. Welch was one of the most widely-followed and imitated CEOs of our time, who made lean operations a cornerstone of modern management and nurtured a who’s who of executives who went on to run many of the nation’s best-known businesses after leaving GE. He was named Chief Executive of the Year in 1993. He presided over a stock surge of nearly 3,000 percent during his tenure, according to Bloomberg. His influence on a generation of management thinking is indisputable. In an online master class he co-hosted last year on employee engagement with Chief Executive and Execute to Win, an Arizona consultancy, Welch laid out his basic principles for leadership. It's a reminder of his powerful ability to distill and communicate complexity though simple shorthand—that identifying, focusing and communicating a few key elements is, in many ways, the most essential CEO skill. "People talk employee engagement, but they don't live it," he said. "You've got to live it every day. You've got to get into the skin of your people. You've got to make them feel the objectives, make them feel where you're going. How you're going to get there and what they have to do to participate and what's in it for them when you get there. If you do that, you engage. "In a business, there are two measurements that count. Employee engagement and customer satisfaction. You get those two things right and then you measure cash flow—and cash flow is the ultimate measurement. You'll watch your cash flow grow as you engage your employees and satisfy your customers."

Clayton Christensen’s Biggest Idea

Christensen, one of the most influential business thinkers of the last fifty years, died at 67. We were lucky to spend time with him last year.

Muilenburg Out As Boeing CEO. Now What?

It was, in retrospect, probably inevitable. Boeing announced Monday morning that its embattled chief executive Dennis A. Muilenburg had resigned, replaced by the company’s current chairman of the board, David L. Calhoun, who will become chief executive officer and president, effective January 13, 2020. The move comes amid the worst period in the company’s history, one in which Muilenburg’s ambitious goals of explosive global growth were eclipsed by two air disasters involving the 737 Max aircraft. The company’s fastest-growing product line became an inescapable anchor amid investigations into how the company had handled the design, manufacturing, rollout and aftermath of the crashes. Last week the company faced further public humiliation, this time on the space/military side of the business as their Starliner spacecraft failed to make it to the correct orbit during a crucial test, leading to the mission being aborted early. It proved to be too much for the board. "On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I am pleased that Dave has agreed to lead Boeing at this critical juncture," Lawrence W. Kellner, the new Chairman of the Board, said in a company statement.  He added, "Dave has deep industry experience and a proven track record of strong leadership, and he recognizes the challenges we must confront. The Board and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the Boeing team to ensure that today marks a new way forward for our company." It’s a very different route from the one Muilenburg laid out when he hosted Chief Executive for our Smart Manufacturing Summit back in 2017. At that time, he was riding high and saw a nearly unlimited future for Boeing’s growth, fueled by the rise of a travel-hungry Asian middle class. “I expect to see changes in the technology of travel itself,” he told us at the time. “It’s difficult to predict how fast the technology will evolve, but you can bet that with the amount of capital investment it will happen. We’ll see revolutions in propulsion technology, electrically powered airplanes and maybe flying taxis. “High-speed transportation will become more economical and offer the capability to go anywhere in the world in one to two hours on supersonic, hypersonic aircraft. That business model still needs some work, but the technology is moving fast enough that that will happen. We anticipate that a low-earth-orbit space travel business ecosystem will develop as access to space becomes more affordable. Also, low-gravity manufacturing in space will eventually become practical, and there will be a transportation network to do low earth orbit. I’ve always been a fan of deep space exploration—that will happen too. Before 2030 we’ll put the first person on Mars—and he or she will get there on a Boeing rocket.” It was ambitious, exciting—and, at the time, seemed absolutely possible as Muilenburg, with his engineer-cool and energetic leadership, climbed the apex of American manufacturing, rallying more than 150,000 employees to his vision. The scope of what he wanted to achieve was daunting—we dubbed it "Muilenburg's Moonshot" on the cover of the magazine—but the ambition was electric, especially as the nation slowly shook off the malaise of the Great Recession. The contrast between that imagined trajectory and the current state in which Boeing finds itself only exacerbates the tragedy. Even for those who criticize Muilenburg's handling of the crisis, there's nothing to cheer here today. Under Calhoun, the company will need to refocus on earth-bound issues: Fixing or scrapping the 737 Max program, rebuilding confidence among customers, regulators, employees and the flying public—and managing a difficult leadership transition in the midst of crisis. The company will need to do all that and more than to get back on track—it will need to continue to improve to stay relevant. As Muilenburg told us back in 2017, “To compete in this environment, we cannot continue to just improve incrementally. Incremental productivity improvements of 1 percent to 4 percent a year will not allow us to compete in the future. We are focused on step-function improvements that are measured in 20 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent to 90 percent increments in some of our key value chains inside of our factories.” A tall order for anyone, especially a company—and a leader—in this situation. Muilenburg tried. Now it’s someone else’s turn. Can they do better? Maybe. But it's hardly inevitable.

Poll of US Big-Company CEOs Finds Support For Removing Trump From...

The results, from a poll at a Yale event for CEOs in New York, are quite different than the most recent polling of broader public opinion in the country.

What’s China Really Thinking?

Robert Kuhn, a reformed investment banker with personal relationships at the highest levels of China’s leadership, shares his thoughts on what CEOs need to know now.

Verne Harnish: Listen To Scale

Engaging customers has always been a critical CEO skill, but to win in the age of Amazon, Verne Harnish, bestselling author of Scaling Up and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, says it’s become downright existential. Here’s what he means, and how to do it right.
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CEO1000 Tracker

From the schools they went to to the types of companies they run, CEO1000 is tracking the trends among the CEOs of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies.


CEO Confidence Falls Again In May Amid COVID Crisis 

A survey of 300+ CEOs conducted in early May shows declining confidence in business conditions, even as economy reopens in many parts of the country and around the world. But there could be a silver lining. 
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Best and Worst States For Business

Are you looking to relocate or expand? Evaluate each state's strengths with Chief Executive's 2019 Best & Worst States for Business.


CEO of the Year

Once a year, we celebrate the achievements of a CEO, honored for his or her success in and dedication to business, shareholders and customers.


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