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Cat names new group president; first woman in that role

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denise johnson

Denise Johnson has been elected a group president at Caterpillar Inc., the company announced Friday. She was elected by the company’s board of directors.

Johnson will begin her duties April 1, replacing Group President Ed Rapp, who will retire.

Johnson will be the first group president in Caterpillar’s history. She is currently vice president of the Material Handling & Underground Division.

"Denise leads one of the largest and most complex businesses in the company; her division makes products primarily for the mining, waste and construction industries and employs about 8,000 people in 14 locations spanning four continents,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhleman. “She has successfully managed costs during the mining downturn and been deeply involved in restructuring within Resource Industries, all while gaining market position for multiple products in her portfolio. Denise has accomplished these business results while also delivering outstanding safety and quality metrics.

"Above all, Denise is a leader inside and outside of Caterpillar. Whether she's engaging with employees, strengthening relationships with key mining customers or serving as a strong role model to recruit more female engineers, Denise consistently excels," Oberhelman said.

Johnson joined Caterpillar in 2011 as general manager of Caterpillar's Specialty Products business unit. There she had responsibility for nearly 20 facilities around the world. She came to Caterpillar after a 22-year career with General Motors, where she developed expertise in operations and product management in a series of positions in the United States, Canada and Brazil.

In 2012 she was elected vice president of the Diversified Products Division with responsibility for industries including forestry, paving and on-highway trucks. In 2013, she became vice president of the Integrated Manufacturing Operations Division overseeing major operations in Caterpillar's largest division at the time. She was named to her current role in 2014.

Johnson graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. She earned dual master's degrees in mechanical engineering and business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Johnson is a member of numerous outside boards including The Mosaic Company.

Johnson's successor will be named at a later date, the company said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).