Bus

2014 Women In Transportation: Veronique Hakim

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

A key initiative at NJ TRANSIT for Hakim has been a focus on customer service at all levels as well as creating a sense of ownership for every employee at the agency.
A key initiative at NJ TRANSIT for Hakim has been a focus on customer service at all levels as well as creating a sense of ownership for every employee at the agency.

Like many in the public transportation industry, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim didn’t have much of an inkling she would end up where she is now. In fact, the opportunity to work for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) came about after working in Paris, graduating law school and embarking on a career as a lawyer in New York City.

“What ends up happening for, some of us, I think, is we fall into a position. In my case, I fell into a transit position and then realized how exciting it was,” she says. “[If you] think about it from a young lawyer’s perspective, you’re working on something that absolutely has meaning. Providing transit service is truly the one resource millions of people rely on.”

Hakim began her career as an attorney at NYCT, where she was progressively promoted, with an emphasis on construction and technology contracts, eventually landing the position of general counsel and executive VP of the MTA’s Capital Construction Division.

During her time at NYCT, she worked on the agency’s MetroCard fare payment pilot program, a $100 million underground storage tank replacement program and how to regulate First Amendment activity on the subway system, as well the extension of the MTA’s subway and railroad systems.

In 2010, Hakim was recruited by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to serve as its executive director, where she focused on introducing cost efficiencies.

“That was a different kind of challenge, because it required bringing together senior leadership at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and introducing to them zero-based budgeting and how to go through their departments and really look for opportunities for efficiency,” she explains. “Over the almost four years that I was there, we were able to identify over $100 million of operational savings.”

Since March, Hakim has served as the executive director of New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT), which boasts 11,000 employees; capital and operating budgets totaling more than $3 billion annually; 260 bus routes; 12 commuter rail lines; three light rail lines; and Access Link paratransit services linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

Upon taking the job, Hakim says she gave herself 90 days — 30 to quietly observe and 30 to start asking questions before taking the last 30 days to develop a charter of how she wanted to advance.

One of the first things she did at NJ TRANSIT was identify the need for a consolidated Office of System Safety.

“We are in the process of consolidating all of our safety-related resources that deal with both our external customer safety and internal employee safety, and introducing a series of rail safety programs really intended to promote a culture of safety, as well as safety across all [of our] operating lines,” she explains.

Hakim adds another key initiative has been to stress the importance of customer service, especially ensuring that customers can not only depend on their bus or train arriving on time, but providing them with technologies, such as its “My Bus Now” program, that inform them when that vehicle will arrive.

Most importantly, Hakim says she and her executive management team are focusing on how to create a sense of ownership for all of NJ TRANSIT’s employees.

“It requires leadership to go into their home department and challenge the entire structure in the department to take a sense of ownership and pride in the work that they do,” says Hakim of the initiative. “As I’ve been traveling through the system, the one constant observation I have is that everybody truly does take a sense of pride in being a part of NJ TRANSIT.”

Hakim’s objectives for the agency may go back to two things she learned through very good, smart mentoring relationships — to communicate clearly so there is no confusion and to build consensus.

“This is a very large organization,” she says. “One person can have the senior leadership role, but the entire organization is the way to success. So, we all succeed or fail together here.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

BusCon '16 features more than 80 buses, debuts maintenance forum

This year's event definitely had something for everyone, including the most buses on one North American show floor, a closer look at issues set to impact transit maintenance professionals, an up-to-date look at electric buses and a the BusCon Connect hosted buyers program. 

Seattle taps CH2M to deliver BRT expansion program

This BRT program, which is part of the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle, will provide high-quality transit throughout some of the densest areas of Seattle.

Hometown Trolley acquires Supreme Corp.'s American Trolley product line

The purchase furthers Hometown Trolley's overall strategic business model to become the leading trackless trolley bus manufacturer in the North American transit industry.

Volvo Buses unveils pedestrian and cyclist detection system

The system will be introduced on Volvo’s European city bus fleet in 2017.

Stertil-Koni introduces high-performance, low-capacity hydraulic vehicle lift

The company’s ST 1064 hydraulic mobile column lift has a capacity of 14,000 lbs. per column, or 56,000 lbs. for a set of four.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close