Norfolk Southern Corporation is one the premier transportation companies in the US. With headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, the company employs over 26000 staff and is parent company to the Norfolk Southern Railway, the country’s foremost transporter of domestic and export coal. James A. Squires, also known as Jim, was elected to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation in June 1, 2015. Squire has also served as the company’s President since June 1, 2015, and as its Chairman since October 1, 2015.
1. Early Life
Squires hails from Hollis, New Jersey. In 1983, Squires achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Ancient Greek from Amherst College. After graduating, Squires spent a year as an Amherst-Doshisha Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, before serving in the US Army from 1985 to 1989. In 1992, Squires returned to his studies at the University of Chicago Law School, where he received a Juris Doctor degree.
2. Career at Norfolk Southern Corp
Squires joined Norfolk Southern in 1992. His first role was as an attorney, but he quickly progressed through the ranks by taking on positions of ever-growing responsibility. In 2003, he was named Vice President of Law. He occupied the position until April 2006, when he moved to Senior Vice President of Financial Planning. From April 2007 until August 2012, Squires served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Senior Vice President of Law. On July 1, 2007, he was appointed Chief Financial Officer, a position he occupied until his promotion to Executive Vice President of Administration in August 2012. In June 2015, Squires became the Chief Executive Officer at NSO, and in October 2015, he was appointed the Company Chairman.
3. CEO Appointment
Squires replaced previous CEO, Charles W. “Wick” Moorman, in October 2015. Of his successor, Moorman remarked, “Jim goes forward with the people, resources, and creativity to take Norfolk Southern to the next level in service to our shareholders, customers and communities. That mandate is clear, and I have the highest confidence that Jim and the entire Norfolk Southern team will succeed admirably”.
4. Smooth Leadership Transition
The appointment of Squires to the position of CEO not only demonstrated Norfolk Southern’s tradition of smooth leadership transitions, but, as noted by Steven F. Leer, the company’s lead independent director, reflected the company’s commitment to sustainable growth, financial success and value creation for its shareholders. “Norfolk Southern and all of those who depend on NS benefit from a seasoned, thoughtful and future-focused leader in Jim Squires”, said Leer. “Jim, his senior management team, and the entire NS workforce enjoy the board’s full confidence and support as we work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead”.
5. Previous Positions
As well as occupying numerous positions at Norfolk Southern, Squires has also enjoyed success outside of the company, with previous positions including Chairman at Virginia Transportation Accountability Commission, Trustee at Sentara Healthcare System and Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America.
As Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at Norfolk Southern, Squires made $10,226,429 in total compensation in 2017. Of this, $1,000,000 consisted of salary, $2,603,250 as bonus, $2,275,119 as stock options, $4,225,099 as stock and $122,961 from other types of compensation.
7. A Change in Scene
In December 2018, Squires confirmed media reports that Northern Southern would be relocating its headquarters of 38 years from Norfolk, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia. The move is expected to be completed by 2021.
8. Board Member
Squires serves on the board of Hampton Roads Community Foundation, southeastern Virginia’s largest scholarship provider. The Foundation, which opened its doors in 1950, has awarded more than $21 million in scholarships over the past 70 years.
9. Safety is a Priority
In 2017, Squires presented at the Hampton Board Chambers Leadership series. During his speech, Squires highlighted how safety is both his and Norfolk Southern’s top priority. “I am always concerned for the safety of our people and the citizens around the tracks. Especially at night and what could happen in the middle of the night.” Squires also noted that worry about his shareholders satisfaction keeps him awake, “I want them to be pleased with our results. I want satisfied shareholders.”
During his tenure as CEO, Squires has continued Norfolk Southern’s philanthropic traditions. Each year, the company pledges $7.5 million to the community, lends guidance to the nonprofit boards in Hampton Roads, and supports a volunteer program for its employees.