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Boeing CFO Bell retiring; controller moving up

Roy Harris | Nov. 2, 2011
Boeing Co.'s finance chief, James Bell, a 40-year veteran of the Chicago-based aerospace concern, announced his retirement, slated for next April 1.

Boeing Co.'s finance chief, James Bell, a 40-year veteran of the Chicago-based aerospace concern, announced his retirement, slated for next April 1. Bell, who is 63 and has served as CFO since 2003, also will leave his posts of executive vice president and corporate president.

Succeeding Bell as CFO will be Greg Smith, now Boeing's corporate controller. Smith, 45, is taking over on Feb. 1, working with Bell "to ensure a smooth transition," according to the company.

Boeing also said that Diana Sands, its vice president of investor relations and financial planning and analysis, would become controller. The appointment of Sands, 46, also is effective Feb. 1.

'Discussed for Some Time'

Bell's retirement "has been discussed for some time," Robert Stallard, a New York-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets who rates Boeing shares "outperform," wrote in a note to investors that was quoted in a Bloomberg News report on the move. "This should be a trouble-free transition. It also marks another step in the generational hand-over at Boeing."

Smith, himself a 20-year Boeing veteran, previously has headed Boeing's financial planning and analysis group, and its internal audit group, and served as controller for Boeing Shared Services Group, among other positions. From 2004 to 2008, he headed investor relations for aerospace firm Raytheon Co.

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said that Bell "created a world-class finance organization and a culture of continuous improvement," using a disciplined approach to financial management.

"As corporate president, he instilled a focus on excellence and teamwork by driving tighter integration across our businesses and functions," according to McNerney.

Bell also had served as interim CEO for several months in 2005, immediately before McNerney took over.

Among his biggest challenges has been dealing with the 787 Dreamliner program, and supply chain issues that stemmed from the long and frequent delays that took place before the planes started being delivered this year.

Smith Led Financial Planning

Greg Smith has more than two decades of aerospace industry experience. Prior to being named corporate controller in February 2010, he led the company's financial planning and analysis and internal audit groups; served as controller of the Boeing Shared Services Group; and held various leadership and operational roles in supplier management, factory operations and program management. He led investor relations for Raytheon from 2004 to 2008.

"Greg is an extremely capable and seasoned industry leader with a uniquely broad background in finance, manufacturing and supply chain operations, and program management," McNerney said. "His insight into how the business works from the ground level up is a tremendous asset to have in a CFO."

Diana Sands joined Boeing in 2001 from General Motors. She has held the IR and FPA posts at Boeing since February 2010, and before that held other positions in corporate treasury and other finance areas. Before working at GM she was in finance at Ameritech, Helene Curtis and Arthur Andersen.

Bell joined Boeing in 1972, at what was then Rockwell International, as a staff accountant. (Boeing had acquired Rockwell's aerospace business in 1996.) Like Smith, Bell also was Boeing's controller before becoming CFO.


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