RTX's CEO transition follows three years of change and turbulence

RTX's chief operating officer Chris Calio will become CEO of the company on May 2.

RTX's chief operating officer Chris Calio will become CEO of the company on May 2. Courtesy of RTX.

Both the company and Greg Hayes' tenure started amid the coronavirus pandemic and essentially a pause in air travel. Chris Calio will move up to CEO in the spring amid rising demand for defense products.

Change and turbulence have certainly been a significant piece of what will end up being three years of Greg Hayes' tenure as chief executive of the company we know now as RTX.

RTX itself was created through a major change: the merger of Raytheon and United Technologies Corp. in the spring of 2020 to form what was then called Raytheon Technologies. Hayes became CEO of the new company after having the role at UTC for the six years prior to the merger.

Hayes will step down from the CEO post on May 2 and be succeeded by current Chief Operating Officer Chris Calio, as announced after markets closed Thursday and covered here by my Defense One colleague Marcus Weisgerber. Hayes will continue as executive chairman of the board of directors.

It is worth looking at this shortlist of what has transpired at RTX since its formation:

  • The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent plunge in commercial air travel
  • The rebound in commercial air travel and subsequent return of product demand
  • Disruptions and uneven recoveries across supply chains
  • The war in Ukraine
  • The war in Israel
  • The discovery of a rare defect in powdered metal that RTX's Pratt & Whitney unit uses to make engine parts

RTX also had an extensive post-merger integration agenda to carry out and has done some portfolio reshaping along the way, including the late October announcement of the cybersecurity business' pending sale to a private equity buyer for $1.3 billion.

A series of company reorganizations have also unfolded in the past three years, along with RTX's rebrand to that three-letter acronym that is also its stock ticker symbol.

Calio oversaw the most recent realignment from four business segments to three in his role as COO. That means Calio will lead the version of the company he has helped architect.

We leave the analysis of what the future could portend for RTX's commercial aerospace business to others, including the work to resolve that engine part defect. Our knitting is obviously in government, and defense and technology is included within that.

Space and the U.S. military's "JADC2" for connecting soldiers and systems in the field are among the core areas of focus for RTX in the defense customer set.

That is part of the long-term strategy for RTX, whose shorter-term priorities obviously include ensuring it can fulfill the spike in orders related to what is going on in Ukraine and Israel.

Calio's current responsibilities as COO include technology, engineering, enterprise services and supply chains. Now add the long-term vision and strategy of the 180,000-employee RTX to that list.