Business Leaders: CSX’s Michael Ward

Name: Michael WardAge: 61Company: CSX Corp.Position: Chairman, president and CEOPrevious role: PresidentEducation: BA from the University of Maryland, MBA from Harvard Business SchoolQuote: "Are we able to grow in this environment? Yes.  ... We believe we'll be able to grow faster than the economy overall."

When President Barack Obama approached the railroad industry with a vision to connect 80% of Americans via high-speed rail service within 25 years, he needed the cooperation of the nation's major railroads. But Michael Ward, chairman, president and CEO of CSX -- the nation's third-largest freight railroad by revenue -- did not go along with the president's plan, believing that passenger trains shouldn't be allowed to use railway tracks.

"You can't make money hauling passengers, so why would I want to do that? That wouldn't be fair to my shareholders," he was quoted as saying.

Ward's commitment to turning a profit has encouraged him to diversify his company's operations. "Well, we touch pretty much almost all parts of the economy. ... So when the economy goes down, some segments aren't that impacted," he said in an interview.

Ward considers government regulation an ongoing challenge. "I and other railroad CEOs spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C.," he explained, "making sure policymakers are aware of what railroads bring to this country and how much we invest in private infrastructure."

Ward got his first job working at his father's pool hall, where he said he learned all about business. He put himself through the University of Maryland while working at an asphalt factory. After, he went to Harvard Business School for his MBA. He joined the purchasing department of Chessie Systems out of graduate school. (Chessie System and Seaboard Coast Line Industries merged to form CSX Corp. in 1980.)

During his 33-year career with CSX, Ward held many executive positions in a variety of areas -- sales and marketing, operations and finance. He started his career with CSX as a research analyst in Baltimore.

The late 1990s were marked by a rapid succession of roles within CSX. He became executive vice president of finance and chief financial officer of coal and merger planning in 1998. For a brief period, he took on the role of executive vice president of coal and merger planning, followed by executive vice president of coal service group. Subsequently, he transitioned to executive vice president of operations.

He was appointed president of CSX in 2000. Shortly thereafter, he became president of CSX. He was elected to the board of directors in 2002. Since taking over the company, Ward tripled the company's profits to $1.56 billion.

According to the Form 14A proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his total 2011 compensation was $8.6 million. This included his $1.1 million salary, $6.2 million in stock awards, $1.1 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, $1.6 million change in pension value and $157,296 in other compensation, such as use of the company airplane.

Ward is also chairman, chief executive and president of Dayton & Michigan Railroad Co. and serves as executive vice president of Allegheny and Western Railway Co.

Ward is on the board of directors for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Ashland Inc. and the Association of American Railroads. He is a member of the Florida Council of 100, The Kentucky Coal Council and The Business Roundtable. He is a trustee of City Year and a director for Allegheny and Western Railway Company.

He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi.