Alum named CEO of fortune 500 company

Becomes first Winona State alum to receive this title

Crystal Flintrop, News Reporter

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Bob Biesterfeld, Winona State University graduate of 1999, became the first alumnus to be elected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Fortune 500 company.

Biesterfeld will replace John Wiehoff as CEO at C.H. Robinson effective May 9.

Biesterfeld studied business administration and marketing at Winona State and graduated with his bachelor’s degree.

C.H. Robinson is a company based out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The company acts as a third-party logistics provider and offers transportation services, including transportation of products.

Currently, C.H. Robinson is ranked 193 on the Fortune 500 list.   

Fortune 500 is a list published by Fortune magazine and it ranks the 500 most profitable  American industrial corporations.

Hamid Akbari, dean of the Winona State College of Business, said this is a big moment not only for Biesterfeld, but for the college of business.

Biesterfeld is still active within the Winona State community as he serves on the Board of Trustees for the WSU Foundation.

He and his wife established the Robert Biesterfeld Family Marketing Scholarship. They also actively support the College of Business Engaged Learning Endowment.

Akbari discussed how Biesterfeld represents the best values of the Midwest; resilient, hardworking, ethical and community-oriented to name a few Akbari listed.

Biesterfeld started at C.H. Robinson in 1999 in transportation sales and slowly made his way to CEO.

“He provides [SIC] as a role model for anyone in any major across the university, it says that ‘I can graduate from Winona State and I can really be whatever I want to be,’” Akbari said.

In March of 2018, Biesterfeld was elected Chief Operating Officer.

Mollie Bortner, senior human resource management and business administration major and president of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, agreed that Biesterfeld is an inspiration for students.

“Having a distinguished alumni like that come out of Winona State, it is a great inspiration for all of our college of business students and not even just for the college of business,” Bortner said. “I think that other colleges can look at that and see that great people are coming out of Winona State and will continue to come out of Winona State.”

Akbari added Biesterfelds new position has established a partnership between the university and C.H. Robinson.

“[Biesterfeld] has opened the way for us to be the main partners with C.H. Robinson, a lot of our students get internships there or they get full-time positions there,” Akbari said.