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Carl R. Ice College of Engineering

Carl R. Ice
College of Engineering

1046 Rathbone Hall
1701B Platt St.
Manhattan, KS 66506

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Prospective Students

Carl R. Ice

"Building Great Leaders-Lessons from the Rail Industry: Driving a more engaged and productive team through leadership development" 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
1:30 p.m. - Fiedler Hall Auditorium

Carl R. Ice

Railroads are one of our nation’s most long-lived industries and considered synonymous with the growth of the U.S. industrial economy and the settling of the American West.  Today’s railroads, however, are more relevant than ever as they move 40 percent of inter-city freight volume in the U.S., including playing a vital role in the recent domestic energy renaissance.  Railroads carry everything from what would be expected, like grain and coal, to the big screen television found at the local electronics store to the package ordered online three days ago.  Modern railroads are operated with cutting-edge technology as they work to continuously drive improvements in efficiency and deliver strong performance to meet customer expectations.  This drive for efficiency also makes rail the most environmentally sustainable land-based freight transportation.

An industry with such a long legacy in building and supporting the U.S. economy has required robust leadership development as an essential component of building an enterprise that lasts beyond the personalities that occupy leadership roles at any particular point in time and adapts to the inevitable changes over time in the economic landscape. 

All organizations, including businesses, have their own view of leadership, how leaders emerge and the best approach to foster leadership skills.  This development and emergence of leaders can occur by design or by happenstance.  Successful organizations thoughtfully and systematically develop leaders.

In the corporate structure of years past, leaders were defined as those who rose within the hierarchy to positions of authority.  And they learned to lead almost by happenstance.  Today’s successful business environment calls for leadership to be taught; this is a skill that can and should be developed as a tool of empowerment, collaboration, and effectiveness at all levels of the company.  Leaders shape alignment and culture and ultimately performance.  So developing the right future leaders at all levels for your organization really matters.

The creation of a leadership development curriculum can be a daunting undertaking for companies small or large, but is especially challenging when you have several thousand employees located in numerous states and countries.  Achieving success requires establishing a clear vision and setting standards that drive performance, applicable to all functions within the organization.  If executed well, leadership development programs can result in a mission-aligned workforce and facilitate collaboration and individual and collective ownership of the company’s success.  Purposely developed leaders speak the same language and set the team’s success above their own.

Biographical Sketch

Carl Ice was appointed to his current position of president and chief executive officer for BNSF Railway on January 1, 2014. Previously, he served as president and chief operating officer since November 1, 2010, with responsibility for day-to-day operations of the company, helping to drive BNSF’s strategies for safety, service, growth, efficiency and technology.

Before his appointment as president and chief operating officer, Ice served as executive vice president and chief operations officer. In this role, he led the team responsible for operation of trains and maintenance of track, structures and rolling stock, as well as sourcing, safety and training. Under his leadership, BNSF became recognized for its safety, on-time performance and productivity.

Ice began his career in the railroad industry with Santa Fe Railway in the Industrial Engineering Department in 1979. He later held positions in Operations, Finance and Information Systems. In 1992, Ice was named vice president, Administration. He became vice president, Carload Business Unit, in January 1994 and was named vice president, Executive, in July of the same year. 

In January 1996, Ice was appointed vice president and chief mechanical officer. He became vice president, Operations North, in January 1999 and was promoted to senior vice president, Operations, in June 1999.

  • Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Kansas State University
Affiliations/Community Involvement (current and past)
  • Transportation Technology Center, Inc. Board of Directors
  • Assn of American Railroads, SOMC & TSWC Chairmanships
  • Kansas State University Foundation Board of Directors
  • Kansas State University Foundation Trustee
  • Kansas State University College of Engineering Board Chairman
  • Kansas State University Campaign Steering Committee
  • Kansas State University Department of Human Ecology Steering Committee
  • The Salvation Army Advisory Board [DFW]
  • SMU Lyle School of Engineering Executive Board
  • Shelter, Inc. Board of Directors

Carl and his wife, Mary, have two grown children, Marshall and Karen, and live in Westlake, Texas. Both Mary and Marshall are graduates of Kansas State University, Karen is a graduate of Hope College, Holland, Michigan and Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas.


BNSF Railway is one of North America's leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and two Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF's shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve.