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The Connecting Sector
Transportation is the nation’s circulatory system.
The transportation sector is like a body’s circulatory system. The latter moves energy, oxygen, waste and white blood cells while the former does much the same, moving everything from our beloved families and favorite food and drinks to natural gas and scrap metal.
However, whereas a body’s circulatory system is comprised of larger and smaller blood vessels, the transportation industry has to interface vessels that float and vessels that ride on rails, vessels that fly and vessels that roll down our roads.
Its complexity makes for exciting careers for engineers and IT people, from the private sector to the public. Just ask those STEM professionals profiled here who’ve successfully traveled down the transportation industry career path. The job prospects also look bright while the salaries are enticing, too.
Moore Clears the Way for Clients at NS
Norfolk Southern (NS) is a prime example of the interconnectedness of the transportation sector, as NS operates 20,000 miles of track across 22 states and Washington, DC, serving every major eastern seaport, 10 river ports and nine lake ports.
It transports items of all sizes, from the miniscule to the gargantuan, and Rhonda Moore, a clearance engineer, makes sure that there’s room for the titanic items.
“I use measurement and bridge data captured by a truck that utilizes a laser to measure the proximity of trees, overhead bridges, track signals and tunnels to NS tracks to ensure that we can safely and efficiently move customers’ oversized freight - such as turbines and generators - from origin to destination,” she says.
However, working at NS typically means your work will be evolving, which Moore loves.
“I like to be in an environment that changes daily. While our railroad has been operating for nearly two centuries, the rail industry is complex and dynamic. During my career I’ve had the ability to be involved with projects of multiple scales, such as revamping a major interlocking, working with a community to improve a highway rail/grade crossing, participating in multimillion-dollar bridge projects and helping with a new business development opportunity.”
Moore has engineering in her DNA. She explains: “I chose to be an engineer because I always had a love for math and science; those were my favorite subjects in school. I wanted to know what made our everyday items work. As part of a STEM summer program in middle school, we made telephones, and I fell in love with engineering. I decided to major in mechanical engineering because it is one of the broadest of the engineering disciplines.”
NS tracks and trains were also part of her childhood. “Growing up in a small town in Georgia, Norfolk Southern had railroad tracks on the outskirts of town, so I was familiar with the company and used to hear the trains on their routes at night. At a career fair in college, I saw the company’s table, decided to stop by, and was interested in the management trainee program,” she divulges.
“I saw the industry as one where I could build a career and experience growth through the program in the realm of problem-solving, leadership and ultimately a pipeline to management,” she adds.
Moore also chose NS, which has headquarters in Norfolk, VA and Atlanta, GA, because she wanted a career off the typical tracks.
“I began my career with Norfolk Southern in the field because I wanted an experience that was non-traditional. I was drawn to the rail industry because I saw it as a way to forge my path in an industry that’s relatively stable and also because I saw the company as a place where I could flourish,” the engineer elaborates.
Of course, choosing a non-typical career comes with challenges, according to Moore.
“I felt the most trepidation when I started with the company. Being right out of college and working with peers where there was an age gap, I was nervous about communicating across generations,” she remembers.
“However, I found my coworkers were eager to share their knowledge and welcomed my inquiries. I also was able to share my input and solutions to projects. Everyone was able to leverage each other’s experiences to work toward ensuring we safely maintained the company’s infrastructure.”
Based in NS’ Atlanta office, which is home to 2,200 employees, Moore is one of more than 30,000 total employees across its rail network. If you become one of Moore’s colleagues, then she has some advice for you.
“Attend events, especially with employee resource groups, where you can meet your peers in various departments and build critical relationships. I’ve found employee resource groups to be incredibly beneficial to my growth in the areas of honing public speaking capabilities and leadership development.”
It’s also helpful to stay on the cutting edge, notes Moore. “I also encourage my peers to stay abreast of current trends in the industry and technology. Doing so could possibly allow you to leverage that knowledge and the skills you attain to further navigate within the company.”
If you’re hired at NS, then your peers will be happy to help you configure an expansive career.
“If you want to try something new, whether it’s a project or you have interest in a new position, my motto has been to ask for the conversation that can help you cultivate the necessary skills. I’ve found my peers at Norfolk Southern to be accessible and agreeable to sharing knowledge. The worst that can happen is you get a no.”
Navigate nscorp.com/content/nscorp/en/work-at-ns/job-openings.html for NS job paths. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.
Schneider’s Yaklin Improves Customer Supply Chains
Schneider delivers van, refrigerated, flatbed, tanker and heavy-haul equipment throughout the U.S. and Europe. It also offers worldwide intermodal services, averaging more than 19,380 loads every day and more than 2,800,000 intermodal rail miles day after day. In aggregate, Schneider loads circle the world 329 times every day.
Laura A. Yaklin is a lead supply chain engineer, and she likes how Schneider manages to be both worldly and cozy.
“Schneider is a multinational company with strong Midwestern roots headquartered in Green Bay, WI, yet offers a very diverse workplace for its employees,” states Yaklin.
“They celebrate the unique backgrounds its employees bring from this area and from around the world to create innovative and unique solutions. While the company has grown over the years, it’s maintained its sense of family, celebrating personal as well as work successes, together we step up to help each other in times of need.”
As a supply chain engineer, Yaklin applies operations research and statistical techniques to analyze and advance supply chain design and transportation operations of Schneider’s customers, as well as provides practical recommendations to improve customers’ business rules, evaluate warehouse and inventory sizing, and offer supply chain visibility.
She has 18,132 colleagues worldwide at Schneider, whose size has enabled her work and career to be varied and fun.
“Schneider has provided me with opportunities for growth. Training and development programs are offered for professional advancement, while self-improvement and volunteer opportunities are also encouraged. The company is committed to the advancement of their employees and the surrounding community,” underscores Yaklin.
“In addition, the people I get to work with are amazing. There are so many interesting, fun, helpful and insightful people that it feels like a community within the community.”
Of course, there are challenges, but she’s enjoyed those, too.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been challenged to solve problems that previously haven’t been considered. Breaking down the problem, drawing from previous experiences and reaching out to others has allowed me to create new solutions that are exciting to our customers,” the engineer elaborates.
“Overcoming obstacles along the way has made these challenges the most rewarding. I love seeing our solutions put into action! The ability to effect change and have the benefits realized is as rewarding for me as it is for our customers. Our clients tend to be very responsive with accolades, as well as provide feedback on where we can help them in the future to meet their business goals.”
Yaklin prepared herself well ahead of joining Schneider to solve problems.
“I double-majored in mathematics and computer science during my undergraduate education, and found a love for the application of these subject areas in supply chain engineering during a summer internship at Schneider,” she explains.
“My mentors encouraged me to continue my education, so I studied on to receive my master’s degree in industrial engineering at Purdue University. I was able to apply my love for supply chain to other industries during my career. And I’ve now come full circle back to Schneider. I’ve enjoyed every minute along the way!”
And Yaklin’s learning continues.
“Throughout my life, I was encouraged to never stop learning. I look for opportunities to learn new skills, listen to the experience of others and question the art of the possible,” she shares.
“Choosing to make education a part of my life after college has introduced me to some amazing individuals and opened doors to exciting new opportunities. Each experience, both personally and professionally, has offered an opportunity to learn, and I’m thankful that I’ve been open to the lessons.”
See schneiderjobs.com, schneiderjobs.com/office-careers, schneidercarriers.com and schneiderowneroperators.com for Schneider career paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
Olvera Oversees Tech Services at BNSF
Today Samara Olvera is manager, technology services, SAP at BNSF Railway, where she partners with other departments to meet their needs by designing and delivering technology solutions that increase efficiency of their business operations.
But there’s always that first day when you’re the boss. “The transition to becoming a manager with supervisory responsibilities was an exciting, yet difficult time,” Olvera remembers.
“I had to learn to delegate to others tasks that had become second nature to me, and begin doing things I didn’t yet know how to do. This seemed much less daunting as I considered that expecting to know everything in one day is an unrealistic and a self-imposed expectation. Asking for help and seeking out experts is key for personal and professional development.”
Now the STEM professional revels in her role. “The most gratifying part of my job comes from connecting with our business partners to truly understand their needs and ultimately seeing our applications in the hands of the end-user,” she notes.
“Some of our projects can take multiple years to come to fruition, but staying in sync with our business partners and revisiting the end-goal ensures we have a good compass to keep us on track throughout the journey.”
The IT manager also points out how she’s long enjoyed problem-solving: “STEM has been a passion for me since my childhood. From solving a puzzle [to] working on a science project or building a robot for a competition, I enjoyed tackling these challenges, applying critical thinking and coming up with innovative ideas. In IT I have the opportunity to apply these skills to address our business needs.”
And Olvera’s enjoyed her career at Fort Worth, TX-headquartered BNSF so much that she’s planted roots in a windblown world.
“We live in a world where more than 60 percent of the Millennial generation is expected to change jobs within the next five years. And before I joined BNSF in 2007, I was certain I’d be part of that statistic,” she says.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that people come here to stay because of the investment that BNSF makes in its employees. I’m looking forward to celebrating my 10th anniversary with BNSF later this year.”
One of 41,000 employees who empower one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies, with a rail network of 32,500 route miles in 28 states and three Canadian provinces, Olvera feels like much more than a number.
“You often hear BNSF leaders refer to its employees as the ‘most valuable asset.’ This is evident through our programs for promoting a safe work environment, sponsorship of further education and performance evaluation to promote on-going development.”
And for those aspiring to also manage one day, she has some parting advice: “You cannot be 100 percent at everything! Be sure to set clear objectives and priorities for yourself that factor into your personal life in order to achieve a healthy work-life balance.”
Better get to bnsf.com/work-at-bnsf/index.html for BNSF career possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Galland’s Work at TxDOT Transports People
When Melody Galland, P.E., a Southeast Harris area engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Houston District, pulls onto a freeway or drives beneath an overpass, it’s a point of pride.
“I love the challenge of designing and building things that I can look back at and feel proud of. I enjoy seeing bridges, interchanges, highways and connectivity that serve the traveling public,” she says.
Galland’s duties take her from conception of roadways to maintaining them. “I’m responsible for all area operations, including the design, construction and maintenance of roadways in our area.”
One of about 90 employees in her office and approximately 12,000 TxDOT employees statewide, Galland enjoys providing essential infrastructure to Texans and their visitors. “I like our commitment to the citizens of Texas and our mission to provide a safe, reliable transportation system to not only them, but to everyone who uses it.”
Of course, there are bumps in one’s career path. The engineer elaborates: “It was challenging when I accepted the assistant area engineer position and transitioned to management because I was now responsible for every aspect of my county and our employees, as well. I was very lucky to have a good mentor as my area engineer. He guided me through the process, but allowed me to make my own decisions and learn from mistakes. He also believed in giving us the tools we need to do our job, which included a lot of training.”
Grace under pressure is common at the Austin, TX-based TxDOT, according to Galland. “I continue to be wowed by how we handle changes and how we continue to build and expand our transportation system with limited resources.”
Galland’s work ethic might be why she wowed her supervisors.
“Work hard without expecting anything in return. Give the best of you each and every day because you love what you do and you like to provide excellent service,” she advises.
However, work must be counterbalanced by a life away from work.
“The best career advice I ever received was about balance, achieving a work-life balance,” she shares. “I’m still working toward that goal, to have a work-life balance, but it’s difficult when we live in a world of immediate gratification.”
Travel to www.dot.state.tx.us/jobs/default.htm for TxDOT job possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Leutenantsmeyer Lives Her Passion at Daimler
Those who manufacture cars never forget how they’re much more than a mere mode of transportation. They’re gleaming dream machines, which do more and more marvels. They’re the products of passion for passionate consumers.
Julia Sophia Leutenantsmeyer, development engineer at Daimler AG, which is headquartered in Germany with 23 locations in the U.S., is such a producer.
“Technology has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and I had wanted to become an engineer from the age of eight or nine,” she remembers.
“The automotive industry is a fantastic sector to work in as an engineer. You get to work on a product everyone knows from their daily life, and the tasks involved in developing, producing and selling a car are so diverse that you never run out of opportunities to challenge yourself. Furthermore, you can really tell that the people working here feel passionate about our products, which is a huge motivation for everyone.”
Leutenantsmeyer works in research and development, where she develops the tools and methods that improve the effectiveness of Daimler AG’s engine tests, making the development process more agile and efficient. The challenges are so complex that teamwork is essential.
“Teamwork is an important criterion. From the outset, I’ve always worked with Daimler in teams, which are often interdisciplinary and international,” she explains.
“For my work environment I need high communication skills. You should be stress-resistant and have a high technical understanding. In addition, I find it helpful to deal with conflicts and always be prepared to find solutions together to develop the best possible option.”
The teams have to be supple and quick, the cognitive equivalent of an Olympic gymnast, according to Leutenantsmeyer.
“It’s very important that we react flexibly and quickly to unforeseen situations. Despite our size and the international range, we’re very fast on the road here and can, for example, dissolve possible delays in the production process,” she elaborates.
The flexibility happens around the world, for Daimler AG spans the continents, with more than 282,000 employees worldwide. With offices on six continents, travel occurs, which Leutenantsmeyer loves.
“The possibility for working abroad is very attractive. I’ve already been to Daimler locations in Japan and China, and I’ll visit India on a business trip this year. Furthermore, the work can be very mathematical and technical at times, but I also get plenty of opportunities to test and improve my leadership abilities early on in my career.”
And how does Leutenantsmeyer manage everything as she leapfrogs from culture to culture?
“For one of my projects, I moved to Beijing for three months, where the working culture was very different from what I was used to in Germany. Being open-minded and showing interest in cultural differences definitely helped build up relationships with our Chinese colleagues and turned the time spent in China into a very valuable experience,” she explains by way of an example.
Again, the key to success is flexibility, Leutenantsmeyer maintains.
“People and technology, as well as the work environment, are developing rapidly. Thus, as an engineer, I have to be ready to expand my horizon again and again, and to embrace new things,” she says. “Changeability is also expected in my area by me - whether it’s [being] actively involved in restructuring [and] being open to taking on new tasks or even changing the location.”
Flexibility might be the engine, but the key that starts the engine is passion for the product. “For me, the enthusiasm for the automobile is essential,” the engineer concludes.
Delve into daimler.taleo.net/careersection/ex/jobsearch.ftl for Diamler jobs. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
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