The renewal of the historic leaders is coming to an end at Airbus. After the departure of the strategy director Marwan Lahoud, the commercial director John Leahy, the CEO Fabrice Brégier and the choice of Guillaume Faury to succeed Tom Enders, the European aircraft manufacturer unveiled this Wednesday morning the names of the next chief financial officer, Dominik Asam, and the director of operations, Michael Schöllhorn. Both are Germans, in their fifties, and will report directly to Guillaume Faury when he will take over the Airbus group in April.
Former helicopter pilot at COO station
Michael Schöllhorn, 53, of Bosch, succeeds Scottish Tom Williams as director of operations. The latter will retire from December 31, after fifty years in the aeronautics, including twenty at Airbus. As Chief Operating Officer (COO), Michaël Schöllhorn will have the heavy responsibility of continuing the ramp-up of Airbus production, while simultaneously leading the modernization of the industrial tool, with the development of digital technology. A key function on which depend not only the commercial success of the aircraft manufacturer Airbus but also the reduction of costs and the improvement of the profitability of the group.
Unlike his predecessor, Michaël Schollhorn has never worked in aeronautics. But before joining the industry, he was a helicopter pilot in the German army for ten years, from 1984 to 1994.
A DAX 30 star in finance
Dominik Asam, 49, will take over from Harald Wilhelm, 52, as CFO, effective 1st April. The current chief financial officer of the world's leading electronic chip maker, Infineon Technologies, he has won several professional awards and is one of the stars of his profession in Germany. He is one of the top-rated CFOs of companies in the DAX 30, the German equivalent of the CAC 40.
The balance of corruption cases
His arrival at Airbus comes in a special context. The replacement of Harald Wilhelm is indeed one of the repercussions of the ongoing Franco-British investigation into suspicions of corruption and irregularities in obtaining certain contracts at Airbus. A case that also led to the governance crisis at the top of the group in 2017 and the departure of Fabrice Brégier in early 2018, and the decision of the Board of Directors not to grant a new mandate to Tom Enders.
The future financial director of Airbus will have to turn the page, completing the reorganization of the practices of the group, while facing the financial consequences that will not fail to have ongoing investigations.
More appointments to come
With these two appointments, the future executive committee of Guillaume Faury is now complete. However, other appointments are still expected internally in the coming months, including that of the successor of the Airbus commercial aircrafts program director, Didier Evrard, whose retirement was postponed until the end of 2018, so as not to risk to disrupt the ramping up of A320 neo and A350 production.