MIT Sloan Fellows alumni are well known for the velocity of their career trajectories, but Tana Utley, SF '07, who has just been promoted to CTO of Caterpillar, didn't wait to graduate to begin her ascension.
General Manager of the Caterpillar Electronics and Electrical Systems Division when she entered the MIT Sloan Fellows Program last spring, Tana has been promoted to chief technology officer and vice president of the Technology and Solutions Division.
With 2006 sales and revenues of $41 billion, 80-year-old Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. Tana has risen through the ranks of the company since 1986 when she began as an engineer. She holds a BA in mechanical engineering from Bradley University.
“Tana is a gifted leader with outstanding experience in engineering and the product side of our business,” says Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Owens. “Her technical expertise and proven leadership will further strengthen our commitment to product excellence and technology leadership.”
Tana calls herself a “conduit” between technology and business. “Business people look to me for technology vision and product development that meet customer and shareholder expectations. Engineers look to me for solid business leadership that enables them to develop exciting products and technologies.”
While it's an impressive leap, Tana is well prepared for the responsibility. In her previous role, she had been leading 800+ employees on three continents involved in the design and manufacture of Caterpillar machines, some of which include 12 computers, GPS, and 6 million lines of code.
Tana pursued a place in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program to round out her knowledge and experience. “I wanted to build my formal knowledge of the fundamentals and find out how leaders in different corporate and geographic cultures solve problems.”
Tana says she's been inspired by retired Caterpillar CEO Donald Fites, SF '71, who has been called the best CEO in the world.
“In the 1990s, Don made a lot of then-controversial decisions that turned the company inside out. But in the end, he strengthened Caterpillar. The vision he established back in the early 1990s is still embodied in the vision we're committed to at Caterpillar until 2020. That's impressive foresight.”