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UPS Inc. on March 12 announced a leadership succession plan that named former Home Depot Chief Financial Officer Carol Tomé as the company’s next CEO, succeeding David Abney.
Tomé will be just the 12th CEO in the company’s 113-year history and the first woman to lead UPS when she takes the reins June 1. She has been a member of the UPS board of directors since 2003 and serves as chairwoman of the Audit Committee.
“After a rigorous selection process involving both internal and external candidates, Carol was the clear choice,” said William Johnson, UPS lead independent director and chairman of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. “Carol is one of the most respected and talented leaders in corporate America and has a proven track record of driving growth at a global organization, maximizing shareholder value, developing talent and successfully executing against strategic priorities.”
During her 18-year tenure with Atlanta-based Home Depot, Tomé helped guide the home improvement giant through the 2008 financial crisis, when sales fell and competition from companies such as Lowe’s increased. She retired from Home Depot in 2019.
From January 2008 through December 2013, she served as a board member for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, in both a board chair and board vice chair capacity.
Abney will transition to executive chairman of the board and retire from the UPS board Sept. 30, according to the company’s announcement. He will remain as a special consultant through the end of 2020 and then retire after 46 years of UPS service. Also on Sept. 30, Johnson will assume the role of nonexecutive chairman.
“I look forward to working with and further developing the talented management team and the company’s 495,000 employees to deliver for our customers and shareowners,” Tomé said. “David has led a remarkable transformation at UPS, and I plan to build on his success. UPS’ rich culture and commitment to its values will guide us as we continue to lead the industry and build on the company’s already strong foundation.”
Transportation industry analyst Ben Hartford with R.W. Baird in Milwaukee believes it is a good move for UPS.
“Our initial conclusion: We’re incrementally positive on the announced CEO transition,” Hartford told Transport Topics. “David Abney’s retirement had been rumored in recent days, and the appointment of Carol Tomé as his successor appears to be a good one, at first glance,” he said. “She was the most uniquely qualified candidate.”
Hartford noted that the news arrived at an interesting time, for the company and the country.
“The timing of the announcement is curious, considering the dual challenges facing the company at the moment [recently, Amazon’s rising customer concentration and, now, the developing and unprecedented coronavirus crisis] — which we think is simply more a function of the search process itself than any other motivating factor,” he said.
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Like many employees and executives at UPS, Abney is a UPS lifer. While at Delta State University in Mississippi, he started as a part-time package loader and steadily rose through the ranks. He was appointed chief operating officer in 2007, CEO in September 2014 and chairman in 2016.
“UPS has been one of my life’s passions, and through UPS, I have been able to live the American dream,” Abney said. “I am proud to have worked with UPSers to prepare this great company for its next 100 years. I am confident in the UPS management team and their capabilities to execute our strategies in the future. This is the right time for me to pass the baton.
“I am extremely pleased for Carol and know she is the best choice to lead the company. She understands UPS’ culture and values, is a strategic leader and possesses a customer-first mindset.”
During his tenure, Abney is credited with increasing UPS’ revenue by 27%, returning more than $29 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, and implementing a multiyear program that established strategic growth priorities and improved the company’s U.S. operating capacity and efficiency.
Tomé has been listed multiple times by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. In 2012, she was ranked No. 2 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of the best chief financial officers in America.
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