David L. Calhoun is an American businessman, and president and CEO of The Boeing Company since January 2020. He was previously Boeing's chairman. He was appointed after the then CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, stepped down amidst safety issues regarding the 737 MAX after two fatal crashes that claimed the lives of 346 passengers and crew on board.
Calhoun was born on April 18, 1957 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Parkland High School in 1975. In high school, Calhoun was one of three captains of the varsity basketball team and he played golf. In 1979, he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in accounting.
After Calhoun graduated from college, he gained employment at General Electric (GE). He decided to work for GE at that time, due to its close proximity to where he lived in Lehigh Valley. He worked at GE for 26 years, overseeing transportation, aircraft engines, reinsurance, lighting and other GE units, before ultimately being appointed as vice chairman of the company and a member of GE's Board of Directors in 2005.
Calhoun left GE to join privately held global information services firm VNU as CEO in 2006. Under his leadership the company rebranded itself as Nielsen Holdings, returned to the public markets in 2011, and was added to the S&P 500 Index in 2013. In 2014, Calhoun became executive chairman of Nielsen, and also joined The Blackstone Group as a senior managing director and head of portfolio operations and a member of Blackstone's management committee. Blackstone had been one of six private equity firms that backed Nielsen's transformation. During his career, Calhoun was on the board of directors of Caterpillar, Gates Corporation, and Medtronic.
Since 2009, Calhoun has served as a director at Boeing, and was named lead independent director in 2018. In October 2019, he was named chairman of Boeing in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX groundings, and on December 23, 2019, he stepped down as chairman in preparation for becoming Boeing's CEO and president, effective January 13, 2020.
In a March 2020 interview with The New York Times, Calhoun discussed the 737 MAX's MCAS software, saying the Boeing had made a "fatal mistake" in expecting that pilots could immediately correct the software problems. He went on to explain that "pilots don't have anywhere near the experience that they have here in the U.S."; he unsuccessfully requested to go off the record after being asked whether American pilots would have been able to control the situation, and then replied, "forget it, you can guess the answer."
In 2020, Boeing had a historically bad year, as the company reported a $12 billion loss and laid off 30,000 workers. At the same time, Calhoun earned $21.1 million in compensation.