Boeing Co. lined up a surprise motivational speaker for an executive retreat in Arizona last month: former U.S. President Barack Obama.

He was the second former U.S. president in two years to offer up leadership tips to managers gathered for Boeing’s annual desert planning session. George W. Bush addressed the group last year, said people familiar with the matter.

While guest speakers are staples of corporate getaways this time of year, inviting former world leaders to inspire employees is unusual. That had been true at Boeing, too.

Its change reflects the corporate ties that linger after a president leaves office — along with the planemaker’s swagger as it’s taken over the mantle from General Electric Co. as the largest U.S. industrial company.

Obama dropped in on the leadership sessions while traveling back to the mainland from his year-end holiday in Hawaii, and Arizona’s top-notch golf courses were part of the allure. The former president waived his speaking fee for the informal address, said Katie Hill, Obama’s spokeswoman.

More from Bloomberg

Posted by Libergirl