Alan R. MulallyApril 5, 2011
Engineer and business leader
A native Californian — he was born in Oakland on Aug. 4, 1945 — Alan Mulally graduated from the University of Kansas in 1969 with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He was immediately hired by Boeing as an engineer.
During a 37-year career with the airplane company, Mulally worked on the 727, 737, 747 and led the cockpit design team on the 757-767 project. This revolutionary design featured the first all-digital flight deck in a commercial aircraft, the first two-man crew for long-range aircraft and a common type rating for pilots on two different aircraft.
Mulally held a number of leadership positions with Boeing. He worked on the company’s 777 program first as director of engineering then after September 1992, as vice president and general manager. He later was named vice president of engineering and is known and recognized for elevating Phil Condit's "Working Together" philosophy through and beyond the 777 program.
In 1994, Mulally was named senior vice president of airplane development in charge of all airplane development activities, flight test operations and certificationas well as serving as government technical liaison. In 1997, Boeing named Mulally president of the information, space and defense systems and senior vice president. The next year, he was named president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Chief executive officer duties were added in 2001.
Mulally was largely credited with Boeing’s resurgence against Airbus in the mid-2000s. For his performance at Boeing, Aviation Week & Space Technology named Mulally as person of the year for 2006.
On Sept. 5, 2006, Mulally was named president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. He took over “The Way Forward" restructuring plan at Ford to turn around its losses and declining market share. Mulally's cost cutting initiatives, which included cutting dividends, led to the company's first profitable quarter in two years.
In 2006, Mulally led the effort for Ford to borrow $23.6 billion by mortgaging all of the company’s assets. Mulally said that he intended to use the money to finance a major overhaul and provide “a cushion to protect for a recession or other unexpected event."
At the time, the loan was interpreted as a sign of desperation, but is now widely credited with stabilizing Ford's financial position. Because of his achievements at Ford, Mulally was included in the 2009 Time 100 list. The entry, written by Steve Ballmer, says, "[Mulally] understands the fundamentals of business success as well as any business leader I know."
A member of the United States National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of England’s Royal Academy of Engineering, Mulally previously served as co-chair of the Washington Competitiveness Council and sat on the advisory boards of NASA, the University of Washington, the University of Kansas, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. He also served as a past president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and is a former president of its Foundation. Additionally, Mulally served as a past chairman of the Board of Governors of the Aerospace Industries Association.