CN Names Robinson as Next CEO

Tracy Robinson has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Canadian National.

She will assume her new posts on Feb. 28 upon the retirement of CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest.

Robinson is currently with TC Energy where she holds the position of executive vice president and serves as president of TC divisions Canadian Natural Gas Pipelines, and Coastal GasLink.

She has been with TC Energy since 2014. Previously Robinson worked for 27 years in executive positions in operations, commercial and finance at Canadian Pacific.

Ruest, who has been at CN for 25 years, announced his retirement last year pending the appointment of his replacement.

“She knows the railroad,” Ruest said during a conference call with investors on Tuesday. “She knows the network. She knows the competition. She’s passionate about railroading. In my view, she is a railroader.”

Ruest said Robinson’s experience in the energy industry will help CN tap into the ongoing energy boom in Western Canada, including the development of hydrogen and growth in the petrochemical sector.

Robinson earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

The Globe and Mail of Toronto reported that Robinson has pledged to learn to speak French.

The newspaper said this was a bid to avoid the type of controversy that ensnared Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau after he gave a speech last year in Montreal in English and was unable to speak with reporters in French.

Robinson said she wants to be able to communicate better with CN’s francophone employees.

In a related development, CN and one of its large shareholders, TCI Fund Management, have settled their differences and the hedge fund will drop its proxy contest.

TCI had sought to name is own slate of company directors and top executives after becoming disenchanted with CN’s financial and stock performance. TCI also had been critical of CN’s failed effort to acquire Kansas City Southern last year.

CN and TCI have agreed to collaborate on the naming of two independent directors to the CN board to be appointed by the time of CN’s annual meeting this year.

In the meantime, CN said it has named former politician Jean Charest as an independent director. Current CN board member Shauneen Bruder was named vice-chair of the board.

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