Richard K. Davidson

DEFINITION of 'Richard K. Davidson'

A former CEO and chairman of North American railroad franchise Union Pacific Corporation, the parent company of Union Pacific Railroad. Davidson was chairman of Union Pacific Corp. from 1997 to 2007 and CEO from 1997 to 2006. James R. Young succeeded him as CEO in 2006 and Davidson became a board member of U.S. oil and natural gas company Chesapeake Energy Corp. Davidson has also been on the boards of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Creighton University, Kroger, The Association of American Railroads and the Capital Visitors Center. He has also been the chairman of the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Davidson was inducted to the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 2004.

BREAKING DOWN 'Richard K. Davidson'

Born in 1942 in Kansas, Davidson began his career with Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1960 as a brakeman and conductor, using the money to put himself through college. He graduated from Kansas's Washburn University in 1966 and worked his way up to become Missouri Pacific's vice president of operations in 1976. Through the merger of Missouri Pacific and Union Pacific, Davidson joined Union Pacific Railroad in 1982. As CEO, he got the company back on track after it experienced a transportation crisis in 1997 following its takeover of Southern Pacific. The company's stock price plummeted, but Davidson updated the company's information systems, added new services and decentralized operations to help Union Pacific recover and thrive.



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