FORT WORTH, Tex. — In a historic pick, Katie Farmer has been named BNSF Railway’s next president and chief executive officer. Farmer, who has been with the railroad since 1992, will replace Carl Ice on Jan. 1, 2021.
Farmer, 50, will be the first female to ever lead a Class I railroad. She is also now one of the highest-ranking women within’s BNSF’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. In a press release on Monday, Ice said that he had long planned to hand off power to Farmer.
“One of the most important roles of a CEO is to ensure a strong succession plan is in place,” Ice said.“Katie and I have been working toward this plan for a long time. Katie has held many different roles at BNSF with an ever-increasing impact with each new role as she has built trust and confidence throughout BNSF. I am pleased for Katie and the organization knowing BNSF’s future is in good hands.”
After graduating from Texas Christian University in 1992 with a bachelor’s in business administration, she hired on at Burlington Northern as a management trainee. She graduated with a master’s in business administration in 1995. Farmer has held numerous roles at BN and BNSF in the last 28 years and is currently executive vice president of operations. She has also been vice president of consumer products.
“I am humbled and honored to be asked to lead this incredible company and its dedicated employees—men and women that I have worked alongside for almost 30 years,” Farmer said. “We are well-positioned in our approach to safety and meeting our customers’ expectations while having the necessary capacity to grow with our customers. BNSF has long been a cost leader and we will ensure that continues into the future. I look forward to continuing BNSF’s success.”
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet called the transition from Ice to Farmer “historic.” Ice has been in the railroad industry for 41 years and led the team that orchestrated the 1995 merger between BN and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.
“BNSF is an iconic company and this is a historic day. Carl has been critical to BNSF’s success for a very long time. I thank him for his leadership and his accomplishments,” Buffet said. “We look forward to Katie’s leadership and more success. She possesses all of the qualities that make us excited about the future.”