What attracted you to the transportation industry?
I had a contract with the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG years ago to provide media facilitation and became enlightened and enamored with all the nuances of transportation. Suddenly, it was a far more interesting subject than getting from point A to point B. About that time, the NM Rail Runner Express project was starting, and I became very excited about the prospect of working in the capacity of communications on that project. 18 years later, the rest is history!
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I would have to say that was being part of the start-up of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, the fastest commuter rail project in the nation in the last 40 years. To witness a $400-million-dollar project go from conceptual to operational was nothing short of historical! I’m just thrilled to have been part of this effort that rolled out the Rail Runner in central New Mexico, and to see how people embraced it. In the beginning, I handled inquiries from all over world about our new train – it was great!
How have women made a difference in the transportation industry?
I think women bring a unique perspective to the transportation industry, and in doing so, have made incredible strides in what was once a largely male-dominated arena. From my experience, women are very logistical thinkers, and the transportation industry has benefitted greatly from their influence. We can see it all around us – not just here in New Mexico, where many key positions are held by women – but also across the U.S. and beyond! Women are multi-taskers by nature and we tend to embrace what is available to us, and it gives us a lot of gratification to help somebody understand how transportation can facilitate their lives. Women tend to see the bigger picture because we’ve been doing it often times as mothers, as professionals, and in our personal lives. There are women in every position of the industry now…from mechanics to drivers to engineers to Marketing Directors and positions like mine – communications. And so many more!
What was the biggest influence in your selection of a career in transportation?
I’m a communicator, so I really need a career in which I can interact with people – both with the people at my workplace…and also those we serve – our motoring/walking/biking public. Transportation is so much more than selecting a route, riding the train, figuring out the fastest way to get somewhere, and it immediately showed me that there are things to communicate about this industry to expand people’s view and knowledge of transportation as a whole. If it wasn’t something that the public could relate to and benefit from, I probably would not have been able to embrace it as much. But there is a definite inherent communication aspect to it that’s relatable to some degree and it’s universal.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Probably getting to talk to the media about all of the worthwhile things we are doing at Rio Metro. I know how to get the most important information across, and hopefully do it in a way that truly makes people care about it! Whether it’s sending out a news release or making an appearance on a local morning news show – I always enjoy being able to share the news of what we’re doing, and it’s a real plus for us to be able to talk about it.
What lessons have you been taught from the important women in your life that you have applied to your own life?
I would say to have a good understanding of your priorities. Reaffirm them and look at what it is you’re trying to do. Women have told me to keep my eye on the prize…my eye on the ball. Stay focused on what I’m trying to accomplish, and those things will generally happen. Always look at the mission- the motivation- behind the action. You might be put in a position where you have to change the way you do something - be open to that - but keep your priorities in front of you. If you have a good handle on who you are and where you’re going, there’s not much that can derail you from reaching your goals.
How have these lessons helped you succeed as a woman in transportation?
As women, or anybody in a managerial position, we tend to get discouraged when sometimes our plans don’t meet with the outcome, or it’s put on the back burner. And maybe you feel like you’ve wasted your time, but nothing is a waste of time if you learn from it and apply it to the next thing. These lessons have taught me to always keep my eye on the prize, stay focused; you pivot and perhaps find a better way or learn something about yourself. Even when the going gets tough – because it often does – as women, we need to hold fast to the things that help keep us stay grounded. Let’s face it, sometimes it works out to benefit you. With all of the demands today’s world throws our way, I feel lucky to get my shoes on the right foot! Keeping my focus on the “motivation” behind the action has helped me forge ahead in my field– and more importantly, do so without losing sight of who I really am.
What natural talents do you possess that help in your chosen career?
I think my strength is in my natural ability to listen…and I believe that it is this “art of listening” that allows me to be a good communicator. Sometimes people just want to be heard- you don’t have to come up with an answer or fix it- and so often that’s where you derive your best information and a truly meaningful dialogue. I’m also pretty quick on my toes when it comes to gathering information and assembling the Who, What, Why’s and Where’s – never a bad skill to have when you work as a Communications Manager!
What part of your career story would you like to share with the world?
You know, I’ve heard it said that “We don’t become what we want – We become who we are.” My mom used to tell me that she always knew I would someday go into a field like acting, broadcasting or communications because she said that as a small child, I would purposely get lost in the department store so I could hear my name announced over the intercom, ha! So when I think about that story, I guess I would have to say that I have truly become who I was probably born to be!
How long have you been working for the company/organization? And what positions have to you held prior to your current one?
I have worked here in the capacity as Communications Manager for nearly 18 years. Additionally, I assumed the duties of MRCOG Economic Development Program Manager about 3 and a half years ago. Prior to joining MRCOG, I did a short stint at Intel, and before that I was at KOAT-TV for 16 years as a reporter, producer, and news anchor.
How does what you do/what the organization does make a positive impact in the community?
I feel very lucky to be in a position in which I can regularly see the fruits of my labor. Not a day goes by in which the actions of my fellow employees… or something that I do… don’t impact someone’s life in some way for the better. Our mission is guided by how the public moves, and works, and uses public transportation. We have so much to share with people about what we do here, whether that’s providing important data or promoting special programs…or simply just helping someone figure out how best to get where they’re going – we are always filling a need in some small (or big!) way.
What do you think is needed to further attract women to the transportation workforce?
Speaking as a woman who’s worked since the age of 15, I think what’s needed to attract women into the field of transportation are good salaries/benefits…and also more opportunities for advancement. Women are hard workers by and large, and they generally don’t back down in the face of a challenge. So, I really think if they are given the opportunities to work hard and advance in their careers, they’ll take those! Transportation isn’t a non-traditional field for women anymore.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter this industry?
I would tell them to explore every position available! Because there are so many things women can do in the field of transportation – seriously, the sky’s the limit! Nowadays, a woman wanting to go into this field can pretty much name her ticket if she knows what she wants to do – so I would say “Look around and check it out”. The transportation world needs more savvy and forward-thinking people, and that makes a woman a good fit for any number of those jobs!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This job offers me regular opportunities to spread the word about the great things we’re doing here at Rio Metro and MRCOG. It also affords me the ability to stay connected to my former world of news media. I value the relationships I have made in the local news market, and this position lets me continue to enjoy that.
As told to Allyne Clarke, Marketing Manager, Rio Metro Regional Transit District.