Tom Linebarger spent much of the early part of his career in Asia, and the Cummins CEO has devoted much of the past two years to warning what will happen if U.S. trade lanes with the region don’t stay open. A native Californian with four degrees (three from Stanford), Linebarger lived in Singapore and Hong Kong as an investment analyst before joining Cummins, the Indiana-based engine manufacturer, in 1993. One year later, in a story about Cummins in the New York Times, he was quoted saying his knowledge of the technical side of the business would help him if he one day became CEO. He got the job in 2012 and has since held high-profile roles on the board of the Business Roundtable and the U.S.-China Business Council. He has also become outspoken about Cummins’s links to China: Of the 5,000 jobs linked to its international business, a large part are dependent on that market, he said earlier this year.
Despite the trade exposure, Cummins’s stock has continued to rise, with a light debt load helping the manufacturer hit a 21-month high in November. The company’s year-to-date returns have outstripped not just those of Caterpillar, its closest rival, but of the S&P 500 as a whole.
NOTE: This article has been updated to include more specific details about Tom Linebarger’s education and career.
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