Women in Transportation - The Series

The transportation industry offers many challenging and rewarding career opportunities for women, yet they continue to be underrepresented. This series highlights the important contributions women are making within the industry and captures their story.

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Aug 31

Marla Montiel, Special Projects Manager, Mid-Region Council of Governments

Posted on August 31, 2023 at 9:15 AM by Riann Martinez

Photo of a woman in an office building smiling at the cameraWhat attracted you to the transportation industry?
Working as a marketing specialist for the Rio Metro Regional Transit District was the role that first opened me up to transportation. Learning about the many complex components of transportation, the riders drew my attention towards wanting to learn more. 

What has been your greatest professional achievement?
In my current position, if there is a new technology that has been released, I’ll think about ways that our organization can utilize it, and how it would enhance internal workflows or increase efficiencies. I enjoy helping all Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) departments, from transportation planning, to the operations of Rio Metro and the NM Rail Runner Express. I am fortunate to be able to assist in the planning efforts in all phases of transportation.

How have women made a difference in the transportation industry?
At MRCOG, women are a part of all levels of transportation. I feel that there is a valuable diverse group of individuals who are able to apply their professional and forward-thinking contributions to the challenges of the transportation industry. I am proud to work with a great group of women. 

What was the biggest influence in your selection of a career in transportation?
The implementation of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express! I found the rail line to be fascinating, especially as a new endeavor in New Mexico back in 2006. For me to add value to this field from the marketing perspective, I had to understand all the components, from our riders’ needs, the planning and development of the train schedules, to the logistics and operation of all departments. And a nice benefit is my son loves trains!

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I enjoy working with the many different programs at MRCOG. No two projects that I work on are alike. For example, I created a Customer Service Intranet so the team can add and update documents in one place. I welcome the challenges that come along with ever-changing technology, changing policies and new ways of doing things. 

What lessons have you been taught from the important women in your life that you have applied to your own life?
Several women in my life have been examples of resiliency, hard work and dedication. This skillset has proven beneficial for me during all stages of my career, and my life as a whole. I feel very fortunate to be able to use those examples in advancing my own career. They taught me that if I have a vision and am dedicated it motivates me to stay the course.

How have these lessons helped you succeed as a woman in transportation?
These lessons have provided a framework for not only me succeeding as a woman in transportation, but as a competitive worker. I have a strong work ethic and am eager to learn and implement new ways of operating and sharing information for all involved. Besides competition is healthy- it makes you want to elevate what you’re doing even more.

What natural talents do you possess that help in your chosen career?
I have a background in computer programming and marketing. I’m naturally inquisitive, a quick learner and want to know all aspects of a project. I’m also a mom who does a decent job at managing several projects and tasks at once!

What part of your career story would you like to share with the world?
You never know where your career path will lead to! 

How long have you been working for the company/organization? And what positions have to you held prior to your current one?
I have been working for the Mid-Region Council of Governments for over 17 years. I have been fortunate to have experienced several roles in my career in government. I started off as a board secretary for our workforce program and then became a Rio Metro marketing specialist prior to my current position as special projects manager which I’ve held since 2013. 

How does what you do/what the organization does make a positive impact in the community?
Discovering new ways of operating internally, or disseminating information to our constituents, members or the public, whether it be on a website, in a report, or via a new software system, I am proud to be a part of making things easier and more efficient. I’m assisting with internal and external operations to disseminate information and create a synergy within the organization.

What do you think is needed to further attract women to the transportation workforce?
There are so many working parts to the transportation industry. I feel very confident working for MRCOG and transportation, in knowing that women are supported, valued, and given the tools to advance and succeed. I’ve been fortunate to have given the same opportunities to advance as men in this industry.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter this industry?
Never stop learning about what interests you. If you find that transportation is intriguing, get involved. Be deliberate and intentional. Network, find a mentor or someone you know to learn more about it. This industry requires constant problem-solving, which I see as a motivator. It’s never stagnant.


As told to Allyne Clarke, Marketing Manager, Rio Metro Regional Transit District.