Over its four decades, Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management has produced hundreds of leaders in functions and industries all over the globe. Meet seven of them in the CEO circle.
David N. Farr, Chairman and CEO, Emerson
David Farr has been chief executive officer of Emerson, a $25 billion diversified global manufacturing and technology company, since 2000 and chairman since 2004. He joined the company in 1981 and soon earned increasingly significant responsibilities. He served as the company’s manager of investor relations, vice president of corporate planning and development, president of its Ridge Tool business unit, and group vice president for its industrial components and equipment business. After several years as the Hong Kong-based president of Emerson Asia-Pacific and CEO of Emerson’s Astec joint venture, he returned to St. Louis as executive vice president directing Emerson’s process management business. Two years later, he became senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, responsible for the firm’s global operations, and was appointed CEO one year later. Farr also served as Emerson’s president from 2005 to 2010.
Doug Parker, CEO, American Airlines Group
Doug Parker became CEO of American Airlines following the merger of US Airways and American in 2013. The newly formed carrier, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is currently the world’s largest airline, operating an average of nearly 6,700 flights daily to 339 cities in 54 countries. Parker is a vocal proponent of airline consolidation, which, he argues, brings more financial stability and competitiveness to the industry. Prior to the merger with American, he was chairman and CEO of US Airways, which experienced record revenue growth under his leadership. In 2005, Parker oversaw the merger between US Airways and America West Airlines, where he had been chairman, president and CEO since 2001. Other professional highlights include four years with Northwest Airlines, where he had two vice president roles, and an earlier five-year stint with American Airlines, which hired him in 1986 after he graduated from Vanderbilt.
Josué Gomes da Silva, Chairman and CEO, Coteminas
Josué Gomes da Silva is chairman and CEO of Coteminas, the biggest textile group in Latin America and a leading bed and bath home fashion products company with more than 15,000 employees and manufacturing operations throughout the Western Hemisphere. He joined Coteminas as chief financial officer in 1989 and became CEO in 1993. Under his leadership, the company expanded internationally, diversified and increased its production, developed strategic alliances with suppliers in Asia, and acquired Springs Global, a worldwide leader in the towels and bedding segment. Gomes da Silva also directed Coteminas in deepening vertical integration to encompass all steps of cotton production and finishing. In 2009, Coteminas started its own retail distribution and today has a complete and integrated supply chain from cotton to the end consumer. Gomes da Silva is also the founder and chairman of the board of Cantagalo General Grains S.A., a company with operations in production, commercialization and logistics of grains.
Maria Renz, CEO, Quidsi
Maria Renz was named CEO of Amazon.com’s Quidsi, a family of 10 online retail sites including diapers.com, soap.com and vinemarket.com, in July 2013. An experienced online retail executive, Renz had been Amazon’s vice president of physical media and was also responsible for Amazon’s Canadian business. In those roles, she directed the parent company’s on-site customer experience; handled merchandising, buying, inventory and marketing for books, movies, music, video games and software; and led Amazon.ca. She has held a variety of leadership positions since joining Amazon in 1999, including managing the company’s consumables group, launching popular categories such as beauty, health and personal care and grocery, and leading its marketing communications department. As marketing director, Renz made the monumental 2011 recommendation to forgo a yearlong ad campaign in favor of offering a new supersaver shipping program—today an Amazon staple. Previously, she held positions at Kraft Foods Inc., Hallmark Cards Inc. and Nelson & Associates.
Martin S. Craighead, Chairman and CEO, Baker Hughes Incorporated
Since joining oilfield services giant Baker Hughes 28 years ago, Martin Craighead has held a broad range of roles—from technical to operational to executive—before being named chairman and chief executive officer in 2012. Craighead began in the oil industry as a research engineer, then joined Baker Hughes’ predecessor Dresser Atlas in technical sales. He served in a variety of operational and leadership roles in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Prior to his current role, he was president and chief operating officer of the $22 billion global organization, which has 59,000 employees working in more than 80 countries.
Rochelle Weitzner, CEO, Erno Laszlo
Rochelle Weitzner took over as CEO of luxury skin care brand Erno Laszlo in 2014 after serving as chief operating officer. She is responsible for directing all aspects of the legendary business in its continuing global expansion. Prior to joining Erno Laszlo, Weitzner was the chief financial officer for Gurwich Products, the international skin care company best known for its Laura Mercier and RéVive brands. In that role, she oversaw the organization’s global finance and accounting functions and directed its fiscal business initiatives. She was also responsible for Gurwich’s information technology, legal and administrative teams. Weitzner spent 19 years in a variety of leadership positions for International Paper, where she held vice president roles for $1 billion businesses within the group and where she was the youngest person and first woman to serve as CFO, responsible for finance, human resources, IT and administration for one of the company’s Paris-based operations.
Tim Murray, CEO, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)
Tim Murray moved his career and family to the Middle East in 2007 when he joined Alba, one of the world’s top aluminium producers, as general manager, finance and legal. Within a few years, he rose to be chief finance and supply officer, then chief financial officer, chief marketing officer and in October 2012, CEO. Murray weds U.S.-style management with respect for Middle Eastern culture as he oversees a workforce of nearly 3,000 for one of the Middle East’s largest industrial companies. In addition to managing Alba’s initial public offering on the London and Bahrain stock exchanges, Murray has overseen safety improvements, launched new initiatives and directed operations that resulted in record-breaking annual sales of $1.993 billion U.S. for 2013. Before joining Alba, Murray spent 10 years at ARC Automotive, most recently as vice president and chief financial officer.