Arkansas Best's Incoming CEO, Judy McReynolds, Treads Her Own Path to the Top

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 12:00 am  

Judy McReynolds is set to become the only female CEO of an Arkansas-based publicly traded company on Jan. 1.

"One of the things that we've done at the company is to really involve the financial people in the analysis of the operations," McReynolds said.

"Every month and quarter, we are working through an understanding of what happened on the operation side and how it affected the numbers, what happened on the sales side and how it affected the numbers."

This approach leads to a big-picture view of the company, which in turn enhances the ability to solve problems.

At Arkansas Best, "we've always tried to dig in deep here and have a good understanding of how operational and sales affect the numbers."


A Long History

Math was always a strength of McReynolds. She began her studies at the University of Oklahoma planning to become a chemical engineer, "which is kind of funny because there's a lot of engineers around here."

But she decided engineering wasn't for her and changed her major to accounting. Graduating in 1985, she landed a job as a public accounting senior manager at Ernst & Young LLP in Little Rock in 1990.

Among the industries the firm focused on was transportation, and McReynolds, a certified public accountant, had several trucking company clients, including Arkansas Best.

In 1995, she went to work as director of financial reporting and taxation at P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. of Tontitown. McReynolds left P.A.M. to join Arkansas Best in 1997 as director of corporate accounting.

She figures her accounting career has given her almost 20 years of experience with the trucking industry, and her affinity for math and engineering has proved useful at Arkansas Best and ABF.

"This company is fascinating in terms of its engineering and math problems," McReynolds says. "There's so much that goes into an LTL operation that involves lean operations, logistics, efficiency-type measures. If you have that interest, there's a lot to be looking at and managing here."



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