NS Touts Digital Transformation, Sustainability at Annual Meeting

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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“We are moving quickly to lead the industry in innovation, launching our Digital | NS initiative, and building the digital railroad of the future.” – Jim Squires

Norfolk Southern chief executive Jim Squires, in his address to shareholders at the May 13 annual meeting, focused on the company’s “digital transformation” and sustainability initiatives, in addition to the standard shareholder-value-based comments, such as “accelerating PSR implementation.”

Squires’ full remarks are posted on the Invest in NS section of the Norfolk Southern website under Presentations. Following are a few highlights:

“Having made significant progress in our company’s transformation, technology remains at the center of our strategy. We are moving quickly to lead the industry in innovation, launching our Digital | NS initiative, and building the digital railroad of the future. We have goals that range from short-term, practical improvements in daily operations to long-term, aspirational ‘moonshot’ projects that will transform our company and the rail industry. Regardless of their scope, these technology investments reflect our company’s pursuit of operational excellence as well as a deep commitment to sustainability as core to our business.”

“We are excited to move forward with our transition to diesel-electric hybrid cranes at our intermodal facilities, advance plans to further reduce fuel consumption, and develop our science-based target to reduce emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement on climate change. By combining these measures with innovative initiatives such as our industry-first issuance of [$500 million in] green bonds, we’re partnering with our customers and investors to reduce our respective carbon footprints and business costs while pursuing responsible growth.” 

A shareholder proposal requesting that NS issue a report on how its lobbying activity aligns with the Paris Agreement on climate change received support from a majority of the shares voted at the annual meeting.

Vanessa Allen Sutherland

“Our board of directors will determine appropriate next steps, but it’s important to note that sustainability and political transparency are already areas of strength for our company,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “We have committed to set a science-based target for emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement, and recently issued $500 million in green bonds to fund investments in sustainable business practices. We also have been consistently recognized as a leader in corporate political transparency by such organizations as the Center for Political Accountability.”

Board Appointments

NS shareholders elected 13 directors for one-year terms expiring in 2022:

  • Thomas D. Bell Jr., chairman of Mesa Capital Partners LLC.
  • Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., president of Purdue University.
  • Marcela E. Donadio, former partner and Americas oil and gas sector leader of Ernst & Young LLP.
  • John C. Huffard Jr., co-founder of Tenable Network Security and Tenable Holdings Inc..
  • Christopher T. Jones, former corporate vice president and president of the technology services sector of Northrop Grumman Corporation.
  • Thomas C. Kelleher, former president of Morgan Stanley.
  • Steven F. Leer, lead director, former CEO and chairman of Arch Coal Inc..
  • Michael D. Lockhart, former chairman, president and CEO of Armstrong World Industries Inc..
  • Amy E. Miles, former chair and CEO of Regal Entertainment Group Inc..
  • Claude Mongeau, former president and CEO, CN.
  • Jennifer F. Scanlon, president, CEO and director of UL.
  • James A. Squires, chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern.
  • John R. Thompson, former senior vice president and general manager of Best Buy.com LLC.
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