Change takes effect Nov. 15
Canadian Class I railway CN is modifying the way the company leads its operations as part of a broader push to make the railway “more modern.”
The railway will now have a chief network operating officer, Patrick Whitehead, as well as a chief field operating officer, Derek Taylor, according to a Wednesday release. Whitehead and Taylor will assume these roles on Nov. 15. Existing COO Ed Harris is moving into a consulting role and will stay with the railway through March 31, 2024.
CN (NYSE: CNI) says the change is part of its broader effort to build its network while also responding to day-to-day events. Whitehead will lead the network operations, mechanical, engineering and corporate safety teams, as well as CN’s two operations training centers, while Taylor will lead CN’s transportation and intermodal operations, according to CN.
Whitehead will be based at CN’s operational center in Edmonton, Alberta, while Taylor will be based in Chicago. Both will also spend time at CN’s headquarters in Montreal.
“The innovative structure will help drive a greater intensity in delivering profitable growth through the cost-effective expansion of CN’s network infrastructure, where needed, and ongoing improvements to customer service as the Company sells into its capacity,” CN said. “It will also allow for the simultaneous refinement of CN’s long-term fleet plan, reflecting the Company’s decarbonization ambitions, and the continued deployment of operating technologies to enhance safety and efficiency.”
CN also said the railway is striving to be an employer of choice “by becoming more modern, innovative, and reflective of the diversity of the communities in which it operates.”
“These appointments are the next evolution of our ‘Make the Plan, Run the Plan, Sell the Plan’ operating model,” President and CEO Tracy Robinson said in the release. CN describes the change as Whitehead making the plan and Taylor running the plan. “With this new structure and leadership in place, we are well-positioned to achieve the sustainable, profitable growth outlined in our 2024-2026 plan. I want to thank Ed for his significant contribution to CN and to the railroad industry over the last 50 years and for his collaboration in imagining and developing the evolution of the operating team structure. Pat and Derek were privileged to learn directly from him.”
Whitehead, 48, has over 30 years of experience in the industry and spent over 25 years in management positions in transportation and mechanical operations. Prior to joining CN in 2021, Whitehead was vice president of transportation for eastern U.S. Class I railroad Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) and also served as NS’ vice president of network operations.
Taylor, 46, joined CN as a management trainee in 2000 and progressed through leadership roles with the railway. He most recently served as CN’s senior vice president of transportation.
CN will report its third-quarter 2023 financial results next Tuesday after markets close.
CN to split chief operating officer role into 2, October 18, 2023, www.freightwaves.com