September 14, 2020 (Updated 9-16-20) - TRA Newswire -

The "Katy" was a storied, unconventional railroad that blazed a trail through Missouri, Kansas and Texas. Another "Katie" has now made her mark in the railroad industry, traveling through much of the same territory, and broken through the glass ceiling to become the first female CEO of a major U.S. railroad.

BNSF Railway today announced that Executive Vice President Operations, Kathryn M. "Katie" Farmer, will become President and Chief Executive Officer on Jan. 1, 2021. She will continue her role on and assume leadership of BNSF’s Board of Directors. Carl R. Ice, current President and Chief Executive Officer, will retire at the end of 2020 and remain on BNSF’s Board of Directors as well.

Farmer has been with BNSF for 28 years, most recently serving as Executive Vice President, Operations since September 2018. In 1992, Farmer joined Burlington Northern as a management trainee and has held leadership positions in every major function of the company including operations, marketing and finance. Prior to her operations role, Farmer led BNSF’s largest business unit as Group Vice President, Consumer Products.

Ice has been with BNSF for 42 years. In 1995, he led a team that orchestrated the merger and subsequent integration of Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railway. Since then, he has helped lead the company and culture into what has become the largest Class I railroad in North America. Ice has been integral to the development of the company’s operating and marketing plans.

“I want to thank all of the men and women of BNSF. I am proud of having worked with you and all of things that we have accomplished together. One of the most important roles of a CEO is to ensure a strong succession plan is in place,” said Ice. “Katie and I have been working toward this plan for a long time. Katie has held many different roles at BNSF with an ever-increasing impact with each new role as she has built trust and confidence throughout BNSF. I am pleased for Katie and the organization knowing BNSF’s future is in good hands. Katie is a shining example of BNSF’s leadership model and BNSF will continue to build upon its legacy.”

As a long-time member of BNSF’s leadership team, Farmer said, “I am humbled and honored to be asked to lead this incredible company and its dedicated employees—men and women that I have worked alongside for almost 30 years. We are well-positioned in our approach to safety and meeting our customers’ expectations while having the necessary capacity to grow with our customers. BNSF has long been a cost leader and we will ensure that continues into the future. I look forward to continuing BNSF’s success.”

Farmer has deep Texas roots and graduated from Texas Christian University – M.J. Neeley School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and earned an MBA in Finance from TCU.

“Carl has had a huge impact on this company and this industry having served on BNSF’s leadership team for the entire 25 years of the company’s existence. I have great respect for him and he leaves BNSF well-prepared for the next 25 years,” said Greg Abel, Vice Chairman, Non-Insurance Operations, Berkshire Hathaway. “Katie has had a long career with multiple roles at BNSF which fits well with our efforts to develop our people. Katie’s proven leadership and passion and commitment make her perfect for the role. We’re thrilled that Katie is taking over the role and have the utmost confidence in both her and BNSF’s future success.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said, “BNSF is an iconic company and this is a historic day. Carl has been critical to BNSF’s success for a very long time. I thank him for his leadership and his accomplishments. We look forward to Katie’s leadership and more success. She possesses all of the qualities that make us excited about the future.” Berkshire Hathaway holds stakes in utilities, industrial manufacturing, retail, insurance and automotive companies and that will make Farmer one of the highest ranking women in the organization.



Matt Igoe, a 22 year BNSF veteran, will be the railroad's next executive vice president of operations, effective Jan. 1, 2021. He will succeed Kathryn Farmer in the role and report to her.

Igoe is the current VP of transportation, a post he has held since mid-2017.  He will be overseeing the entire operations organization of BNSF after the first of the year.