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Norfolk Southern’s Jim Squires to retire May 1; Alan Shaw to become CEO

Alan Shaw and Jim Squires at Norfolk Southern's new corporate headquarters in Midtown. (Special.)

By Maria Saporta

Norfolk Southern Corp. announced today that Chairman and CEO James “Jim” A. Squires will retire on May 1, 2022. He will be succeeded by Alan H. Shaw, Norfolk Southern’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

To ensure a smooth succession, Norfolk Southern’s board has elected Shaw to serve as president, effective immediately. The company’s executive leadership team now reports to Shaw.

“Jim is retiring at the top of his game,” said Steven F. Leer, Norfolk Southern’s lead independent director. “Thanks to Jim’s leadership, Norfolk Southern has a strong foundation for continued success. During his tenure he has increased shareholder value by more than $30 billion, implemented precision scheduled railroading, led the company through a freight recession and global pandemic, and brought company leadership together in a new, state-of-the-art Atlanta headquarters.”

Tom Bell Jim Squires

Norfolk Southern 2019 annual meeting in Atlanta Tom Bell, a director of the railroad since 2010, and Jim Squires, the CEO of Norfolk Southern since 2015. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

During an interview last month, Squires was asked about how long he intended to stay as the company’s CEO.

“I serve at the pleasure of the board,” said Squires, who turned 60 on Sept. 6.

Squires then talked about how he and his wife are empty-nesters, and both their daughters live out of town. Squires said they had sold their house in Norfolk and are living in a Midtown high rise. He also said that both he and his wife love to travel, and they were looking forward to taking international trips.

“This is the right moment for a leadership transition,” Squires said in today’s press release. “The company is in rock-solid position, I’ve accomplished what I set out to achieve, and our board of directors has identified the right leader in Alan Shaw to guide Norfolk Southern in its next chapter of success and value creation.”

Squires and Shaw will continue to work closely together over the next five months to complete a smooth transition.

“Alan has a unique combination of skills and experience that prepare him to lead the company,” Squires said. “He’s a veteran railroader who understands operations and will drive continued improvement in service and efficiency. At the same time, he has an unparalleled understanding of our customers and the markets we serve, as well as the vision to grow shareholder value in our competitive, rapidly evolving industry.”

Shaw is one of the freight industry’s most respected leaders, with 27 years of experience at Norfolk Southern in marketing, operations, and finance. He was appointed CMO in May 2015, and under his leadership the company has built the strongest intermodal franchise in the eastern United States, positioning it for growth in consumer-oriented, service-sensitive markets. He is responsible for innovations in customer-facing technology, sustainability and new product offerings.

Shaw earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA from Virginia Tech and completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School. He is a chartered financial analyst.

Norfolk Southern CEO Jim Squires in his office at the company’s new Midtown headquarters. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

“I look forward to working with Jim, our board of directors, and the entire team at Norfolk Southern to provide superior service to our customers, create compelling value for shareholders, and build on the momentum of our improving operating ratio,” Shaw said.

The company also announced that Ed Elkins, vice president of industrial products, has been promoted to executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Elkins joined Norfolk Southern in 1988 as a locomotive engineer. He served as group vice president for chemicals and group vice president for international intermodal before assuming his current role in 2018. Elkins, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, graduated from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and earned an MBA from Old Dominion University. He completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School.

“Ed is an experienced, innovative and trusted leader who will step seamlessly into the role of CMO and be a strong addition to the executive leadership team,” Squires said.

James “Leggett” Kitchin, currently group vice president of domestic intermodal marketing and sales, will succeed Elkins as vice president of industrial products. These appointments are also effective immediately.

Jeff Heller, vice president of intermodal and automotive, will retire from the company after a  27-year career on March 1. Shawn Tureman, currently group vice president of industrial products/chemicals, becomes group vice president of intermodal and automotive effective immediately and will succeed Heller as vice president upon his retirement.

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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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