Lifetime of Achievement: Jim Umpleby

Jim Umpleby
Jim Umpleby
Jim Umpleby is the Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, a manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, based in Irving, Texas

D. James Umpleby III, known as Jim, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Caterpillar Inc

He leads a team of over 109,100 employees across 63 countries and is responsible for the company’s strategy for profitable growth and its execution, which focuses on ‘operational excellence, expanded offerings, services and sustainability and driving positive change on every continent’. 

He is leading the company in a sustainable direction - here, we take an in depth look at his career and what’s next.

Caterpillar is developing sustainable innovation

In 1925, Caterpillar Inc. was founded in Deerfield, Illinois, to help customers ‘build a better world’, by manufacturing construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives.

98 years later, the company is making sustainable strides across the world and in various sectors, including construction, energy, transportation and more, with Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby at the helm.

“With nearly a century of sustainable innovation, Caterpillar has a legacy of providing products and services that continually improve the quality of life and the environment by helping our customers fulfil society’s need for infrastructure in a sustainable way,” says Umpleby.

At Caterpillar, sustainability is more than just a buzzword, it’s a code of conduct. Caterpillar’s philanthropic organisation, the Caterpillar Foundation, recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. In recent years, it has helped partners to respond to disasters, from the tornadoes in Kentucky, to flooding in China. 

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Caterpillar stopped its manufacturing operations in Russia and has donated to support the victims of war - receiving warm gratitude from the American Red Cross for the humanitarian relief.

“Caterpillar’s Values in Action are the foundation for our work, guiding us on our sustainability journey,” said Umpleby. “Through the Caterpillar Foundation, we have engaged in sustainable infrastructure programs, workforce development and disaster relief in 40 countries.”

Jim Umpleby’s 40 years of experience

Umpleby studied mechanical engineering at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree. He later completed an executive leadership program at the International Institute for Management Development, in Switzerland. 

In 1980, Umpleby began working at Solar Turbines, a Caterpillar subsidiary, as an Associate Engineer. He was later promoted to President of Solar Turbines and Vice President of Caterpillar in 2010. Umpleby led Caterpillar’s Energy & Transportation business segment as Group President, from 2013 to 2016. He became Caterpillar’s CEO in 2017 and was elected chairman of Caterpillar’s board of directors in December 2018.

Umpleby is active on various boards, including the Chevron Corporation, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, the US-China Business Council and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. 

He is also a trustee of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a member of Business Roundtable, The Business Council and the National Petroleum Council.

Diversity at Caterpillar

At a time when diversity is essential for businesses - from supporting working mothers to ensuring people with disabilities can work comfortably in the workplace - Caterpillar is ‘harnessing the power of everyone’.

“We are committed to fostering a workplace that respects and celebrates our employees’ diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives and encourages a culture where employees feel valued and included,” said Umpleby. “This heightens the opportunity for greater team performance and strengthens us as a company, enabling us to provide superior value for those we serve.”

In October 2022, Caterpillar’s Board of Directors waived a policy requiring its CEO to retire at age 65 - and kept Umpleby on. 

"Waiving the mandatory retirement policy for Jim provides the Board greater flexibility with its CEO succession process," said Debra Reed-Klages, Presiding Director. "Jim has provided strong strategic and operating leadership for the company and we look forward to his continued leadership of the Caterpillar team."

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