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Harry C. Stonecipher

Born 1936 in Robbins, Tenn., Harry C. Stonecipher is the former president and CEO of The Boeing Company. He was credited with the resurgence of Boeing after its government procurement scandal.

Stonecipher graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Tennessee Technological University in 1960. He began his career at General Motors, working as a lab technician in the Allison Division. From there, he moved up the ranks to become Vice President at General Electric in 1979, before leaving for Sundstrand in 1987, where he became president and CEO.

At Sundstrand, Stonecipher helped turn around a company that had been racked by scandal. Sundstrand had just pled guilty to fraud charges and had paid a $200 million fine, prompting the layoffs of 3,500 workers. Within five years under Stonecipher’s leadership, Sundstrand’s operating margin had doubled, and its reliance on defense contracts had been cut in half.

In September 1994, Stonecipher was elected president and CEO of McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing in 1997. His tenure with the major corporation saw him become a publicly-recognizable face on the American business scene, as he began hosting the company’s quarterly video report and maintained a public speaking schedule that rivaled any American major business executive.

In 2001, Stonecipher was elected vice chairman and retired as president of McDonnell Douglas. However, he came out of retirement to lead Boeing in 2003, following the resignation of chairman and CEO Phil Condit over various scandals surrounding allegations of documents stolen from competitors and government procurements.

Under Stonecipher’s tenure, the U.S. Air Force lifted a 20-month suspension of the company, allowing them to once again bid on Pentagon contracts. Stonecipher oversaw the launch of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to challenge Airbus. Shares of the company soared 54% to as high as $58.74 in 2005.

Stonecipher passed along five maxims that he said epitomized his approach to business:

1.) Do not tolerate complacency.
2.) Change the people, or change the people.
3.) Don’t try to please everyone.
4.) Be prepared to alter your plans and make new ones without delay or regret.
5.) Have fun.

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