Railroad hires new CEO from within
The Alaska Railroad Corp. board of directors announced Oct. 25 that Bill O’Leary has been named as the new president and CEO of the state railroad.
O’Leary currently serves as the railroad’s chief operating officer, a post he has held since March. He will replace outgoing president and CEO Chris Aadnesen when he takes the head position Nov. 1.
Aadnesen has led the Alaska Railroad since September 2010 and announced in September he would be stepping down for personal reasons. His last day is Oct. 31.
“There are a number of great opportunities for the Alaska railroad as we look ahead,” O’Leary said in a release. “I look forward to working with our employees, our customers and the state to foster that potential and continue to provide safe, reliable, year-round transportation that supports Alaskan commerce.”
A lifelong Alaskan, O’Leary joined the railroad in 2001 as vice president and chief financial officer. He served as the corporation’s interim CEO for nearly seven months in 2010 prior to Aadnesen’s appointment. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the railroad release states.
He takes the helm of the Alaska Railroad Corp. nearly eight months after it cut approximately 9 percent of its full-time staff in a cost-cutting move. In recent years the railroad has faced declining demand for its freight service, cuts to federal funding and increasing regulatory costs.
Despite the challenges, Aadnesen said in an Oct. 21 interview that the railroad has turned a corner and should be financially stable and healthy for the foreseeable future.
“It is particularly gratifying to see a lifelong Alaskan at the reigns of the Alaska Railroad,” board chair Linda Leary said. “Bill’s experience with the railroad business environment and railroading operations make him a solid asset. The (railroad) board is very pleased Bill has accepted the CEO post.”
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.