Oberhelman is a long-time Caterpillar executive who led the Illinois construction and mining equipment giant through a period of slack demand during the global financial crisis.
Caterpillar has had a strong 2011 driven by rebounding emerging market economies, rising global commodity prices, and government infrastructure spending worldwide. Last April, Cat paid
$8.8 billion to acquire mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus, a good move given strong expected growth in the global mining industry. Big risks for Oberhelman: Another economic
downturn, which would crimp infrastructure spending, and competition from Japanese construction equipment maker Komatsu, which is especially strong in China where Caterpillar lacks a
robust dealer network.