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— by Pat Foran, editor
Earlier this month, Progressive Railroading and RailTrends® announced that CSX Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward was the 2015 recipient of the "Railroad Innovator Award." The award recognizes an individual's outstanding achievement in the rail industry.
And achieve, Mr. Ward has.
He began his CSX career as a management trainee with the Chessie System in 1977; since then, Ward has held executive positions in nearly all aspects of the company's business, including sales and marketing, operations and finance. He was named president of CSX Transportation in 2000, and appointed chairman and CEO in 2003.
During his leadership tenure, Ward has prepped CSX for the post-coal world, leading the charge to diversify the railroad's business portfolio, a strategy that's helped keep CSX on the growth track. He also has helped keep the Class I on the continuous-improvement curve, particularly when it comes to service.
And Ward has been consistent in his message-sending — accordingly, he's helped to change the culture at CSX, engaging the workforce to help improve service performance. Another message he's sent — "no whining," a placard that has adorned a window ledge in his office and a sentiment that reflects his roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-to-work approach — has resonated, as well. It befits rail's 21st century return to growth-industry status.
From where I sit, Ward's down-to-earth pragmatism — "He's real," as one of his colleagues told me during the Conrail integration days, when Ward served as CSX's merger manager — has always made him stand out. Thanks, Michael, for keeping it real.
Ward is the seventh innovator to receive the award. We previously presented awards to Canadian Pacific's Keith Creel, Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Wick Moorman, Union Pacific Corp.'s Jim Young, Kansas City Southern's Mike Haverty, BNSF Railway Co.'s Matt Rose and CN's E. Hunter Harrison.
Ward will receive the award during our annual RailTrends conference, which will be held Nov. 19-20 at the W New York in New York City. For more information, log onto www.railtrends.com.