Mulally graduated from the University of Kansas in 1969 with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He is also an alumnae member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He received a Master's degree in Management (S.M.) as a Sloan Fellow from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1982. He has three sons (Christopher, Timothy, and Peter), two daughters (Amanda and Molly) and is married to the former Jane "Nicki" Connell.
Mulally was hired by Boeing immediately out of college in 1969 as an engineer and advanced through the company in a series of engineering and program management positions, making contributions to the 727, 737, 747, 757, and 767. He worked on the 777 program as the vice-president and general manager and was the Vice President of Engineering for the commercial airplane group. In 1994, Mulally was made the senior vice president of Airplane Development and was in charge of all airplane development activities, flight test operations, certification, and government technical liaison. In 1997, Boeing made Mulally the president of the Information, Space & Defense Systems and senior vice president. This lasted until 1998 when he was made president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Chief Executive Officer duties were added in 2001.
Following the forced resignations of Phil Condit and Harry Stonecipher, Mulally was considered one of the leading internal candidates for the CEO position. When Mulally was passed over in both instances, questions were raised about whether he would remain with the company. For Mulally's performance at Boeing, Aviation Week & Space Technology named him as their person of the year for 2006.
Mulally was named the President and CEO of Ford Motor Company on September 5, 2006, succeeding William Clay Ford, Jr., who remains as Executive Chairman of the company's Board of Directors. He is taking over "The Way Forward" restructuring plan at Ford to turn-around its massive losses and declining market share.