Caterpillar CEO Umpleby prizes sustainability highly

Jim Umpleby
Jim Umpleby – Chairman and CEO of world famous mining and construction equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar – on the importance of ESG to the company

Jim Umpleby is the Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, the world famous US-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

D. James Umpleby III – to give him his full name – leads a team of 109,100 employees across 63 countries and is responsible for leading the company’s strategy for profitable growth, through “operational excellence, expanded offerings, services and sustainability and driving positive change on every continent”, he has said. 

And these are challenging times for the company. Q1 2024 – as buoyant demand for machinery shows signs of slowing – Caterpillar warned of a fall-off in sales

Sales of its construction equipment business fell 5% in the first quarter, while its division that caters to natural resources industries saw a sales decline of 7%, Reuters reported.

Umpleby leads an organisation with a rich history. It was founded in Illinois nearly a century ago, and has gone on to become a world-famous name in the construction and mining sectors.

It has its roots in the 1925 merger of the Holt Manufacturing Company and CL Best Tractor Co, and has grown into a global powerhouse, producing an extensive range of earthmoving, mining, and power generation equipment.

Its product line-up is a testament to its versatility, but its DNA can be traced back to its iconic yellow bulldozers and excavators that have reshaped landscapes worldwide, as well as to the massive haul trucks and underground mining machinery that extract precious resources from the earth's depths. 

The company’s reach today extends beyond construction and mining, with its diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives powering industries across the globe.

Today, Umpleby is leading the company in a sustainable direction 

He says: “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.”

ESG has a long history at the company, whose philanthropic organisation – the Caterpillar Foundation – recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. In recent years, Caterpillar has helped its partners respond to disasters that span from tornadoes in Kentucky to flooding in China. 

And, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the company ceased manufacturing operations in Russia and donated to support victims of the war, receiving praise from the American Red Cross for its humanitarian relief.

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

Umpleby’s career began at Solar Turbines, a Caterpillar subsidiary, as an Associate Engineer. He was promoted to President of Solar Turbines and became Caterpillar VP in 2010. 

He led Caterpillar’s Energy & Transportation business as Group President, from 2013 to 2016 and was appointed nCEO in 2017, before being elected Chairman of the Board in December 2018.

Like so many in construction and mining, Umpleby studied mechanical engineering (at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology). He later completed an executive leadership program at the International Institute for Management Development, in Switzerland. 

Umpleby serves on boards including Chevron, 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.

Of Caterpillar, he says: “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. 

“This heightens the opportunity for greater team performance and strengthens us as a company, enabling us to provide superior value for those we serve.”


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