UPS Lifer David Abney Still Fascinated by Logistics

David Abney, center, participates in an Asian business summit.

David Abney worked at UPS part-time while in college, but was so fascinated by the carrier’s logistics that he stayed – and worked his way up to become chairman and CEO.

In 1974, Abney was 19 when he got a night job loading packages onto vans at the UPS facility in Greenwood, Miss., while attending Delta State University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he continued to work at UPS as a package car driver, and nearly four decades and numerous promotions later in 2014, was named to the top post of the Atlanta-based company.

Abney is still fascinated by logistics, particularly as it continues to evolve with emerging technologies. Just in time for the peak holiday season, UPS has boosted its investment in automated warehouses and upgraded technology, and recently took delivery of two 747-8F aircraft, putting them into service on high-demand transpacific routes, directly supporting future anticipated international growth.

UPS also is investing in smart logistics and is extending technologies to its drivers, so they can use cell phones as delivery devices for their routes. Moreover, the carrier now offers a service called MyChoice, which allows customers to give UPS their gate code in a gated community so drivers can easily enter. Thanks in part to automation, UPS is now on its way to increasing capacity while generating approximately $800 million to $1 billion in annual cost savings within 3-5 years.

“UPS is focused on creating customer solutions that enable us to capture opportunities in international growth, e-commerce and specialized market segments like healthcare,” Abney told Chief Executive. Since late 2014, UPS’ international segment has recorded 11 consecutive quarters of currency-neutral double-digit core operating profit growth.

“The distribution business has been exploding the last few years and will continue on a high growth trajectory,” added Paul Winum, Senior Partner and Co-Practice Leader, Board and CEO Services at RHR International. “UPS is well positioned to capitalize on that opportunity with an aligned board, CEO and senior leadership team.”

Abney is No. 47 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the CEOs of the top 1,000 public/private companies.


David Abney

Chairman and CEO (Since September 2014), UPS

Previous Position: COO

Company start date: 1974

First Position at Company: Part time package loader

Age: 62

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Delta State University

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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