The Neupaver file Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Birthplace: Belle Vernon, Pa.

Education: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy; earned a master’s in material sciences and metallurgy at the University of Pittsburgh

First job: Officer in the U.S. Navy

What is your favorite business book?: ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

Peter Guerico, my boss and mentor at Pfizer because he was a people person. He walked the floor and knew everyone.

What’s the most valuable business lesson you’ve learned?

People are your most important factor in success. The higher you go, the more it’s about people.

What are the most valuable qualities a CEO should possess?

You have to be a good leader, you have to be driven, and you have to be a good time manager.

How would you describe your management style?

I’m too impatient at times. I could be a better listener. I think people generally find me approachable.

The new guy on the block: One of Al Neupaver’s challenges was to come into an industry where he hadn’t had any direct experience, and he didn’t have a pool of business associates he could draw from who had any, either.

When William Kassling, Wabtec’s chairman and then interim president and CEO asked Neupaver what his management style would be at the company, his response was that he wasn’t going to cause a revolution.

“I told him I’m going to evolve, I’m going to come in and work with these people,” says Neupaver.

Neupaver supplemented his shortfall in industry knowledge by cramming for several months before he came on board.

“I spent a lot of time before I got here studying the industry, visiting customers, visiting suppliers,” says Neupaver.

That preparation pays off, says Neupaver, not only in the practical side of business operations but in gaining the confidence of your team.

“I think you gain respect by working hard and trying to understand their problems, their issues, but more importantly learning the business so you’re coming from a position of strength when you’re having a discussion.”