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— by Pat Foran, editor
On March 2, Norfolk Southern Corp. announced that it had named Jim Squires chief executive officer. As part of a planned succession process, Squires will succeed Wick Moorman, who'll continue as executive chairman, on June 1. NS was the fourth Class I to unfold its succession plan publicly within a 25-day span. On Feb. 5, Union Pacific Corp.'s board elected Lance Fritz president and CEO; he succeeded Jack Koraleski, who now serves as executive chairman. On Feb. 11, CSX Corp. announced that its board had elected Oscar Munoz as president, noting that Michael Ward would remain chairman and CEO. On Feb. 20, Kansas City Southern named Patrick Ottensmeyer president, effective March 1.
None of these C-suite moves were surprising, although this four-announcements-in-less-than-a-month thing is a new one on me. Squires had been appointed NS's president in May 2013, a few months after Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison convinced Keith Creel to leave CN to serve as CP's president and become Harrison's heir apparent. In late 2013, BNSF Railway Co. announced that Carl Ice had been tabbed to succeed Matt Rose as CEO, with Rose assuming the new title of executive chairman. The 2013 moves, plus the four from the past month, add up to six of the seven Class Is publicly revealing their next-generation leadership cards. (CN showed its hand a while ago, officially handing the CEO reins to Claude Mongeau in 2010.)
Each of these new-breed leaders already has been helping his respective railroad answer the keyest of key questions. Among them: What will it take for the rail industry to stay the growth course? And: What will it mean to work with the constituencies and communities railroads serve, and how might those relationships alter the way rail is viewed in regulatory and policy-shaping circles? How rail leaders answer these questions matters; how they tell the rail story matters, too. Their actions, or perceptions of same, will matter even more, predecessors of these new-breed leaders have been telling us during the past dozen years or so.
Congrats to the new-breed Class I leaders. And here's to successful storytelling and succession-plan execution.
I am pleased to announce that Daniel Niepow has joined the Progressive Railroading staff as associate editor.
Dan has had internships with Milwaukee Magazine and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, and he's freelanced for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He has a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served on the Badger Herald and Curb Magazine staffs.
Dan will report and write news and feature articles that'll appear within our print pages, and on ProgressiveRailroading.com.