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When Canadian Pacific announced on Jan. 18 that E. Hunter Harrison would retire as CEO effective Jan. 31 so he could “pursue opportunities” at other railroads, I figured we’d be buckling up for a circuitous, if not bumpy, ride. Particularly when reports circulated that Harrison was joining with activist investor Paul Hilal and his hedge fund Mantle Ridge LP in an attempt to shake up management at CSX Corp. So far, there’ve been no bumps. The headlines have come quickly and without nuanced language:
• Feb. 10: The CSX board extended the deadline to Feb. 24 to nominate directors and propose other business to be considered at its annual meeting. • Feb. 14: The CSX board called for a special shareholders meeting to seek guidance on certain Mantle Ridge/Harrison proposals, including one that would make Harrison CEO. • Feb. 21: CSX announced Chairman and CEO Michael Ward and President Clarence Gooden would retire May 31. Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson was appointed president. • Feb. 21: CSX announced it would eliminate about 1,000 management employees “through an involuntary separation program” to be completed by mid- to late March. • Feb. 23: CSX extended the deadline for board nominations to March 10.
As this issue went to press on March 2, I wasn’t hearing predictions of any twists in what appears to be a new road to a new CSX of tomorrow. As Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.’s Benjamin Hartford put it in a Feb. 27 report: “We believe all constituents remain committed to an amicable process.”
[Editor's note: On March 6, CSX named Harrison CEO "effective immediately."]
Amicable doesn’t mean bump-less, so we’ll be watching and listening as the constituents commit to that process — and as strategists outside CSX amble up to the North American railroad map and think, perhaps out loud, about what’s next. Perhaps then we’ll buckle up.
On Feb. 22, Progressive Railroading and Secure Rail 2017 hosted a webcast titled “Rail Cyber Needs Innovation: How to Build a Program to Get It.” The presenter: Jim McKenney, CSX Corp.’s solutions architect-operational technology.
McKenney discussed how products can create gaps in technology that leave operating environments open to cyber threats; explained how to build a program that fosters innovation as a way to fill cybersecurity gaps; and detailed a pilot program he developed at CSX — “Cyber Go Forward” — designed to accomplish these goals. To view and listen to his presentation, check out our webcast archive: www.progressiverailroading.com/webcasts.
McKenney also will speak at our Secure Rail conference, which will be held April 5-6 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla. For more information or to register, visit: www.securerailconference.com