SEPTA's AIM AD employee development program students. Photo: SEPTA

SEPTA's AIM AD employee development program students. Photo: SEPTA

In June 2016, readers were introduced to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) Advancing Internal Management for Assistant Directors (AIM AD) program. The 27 students just celebrated their graduation, with 11 participants achieving the ultimate reward — a promotion. Additionally, several class members have interviewed for and are awaiting responses on new positions or are in a pool of candidates for jobs.  

“The graduation was a momentous occasion, marking the end of our employees’ year-long commitment to professional and personal growth,” said Jennifer Barrett, SEPTA's senior training facilitator.

The AIM AD programs was designed by the authority to expand the pool of supervisors who are ready to move into assistant director positions in SEPTA’s operations and engineering, maintenance, and construction divisions.

“The assistant director position is one of the most challenging and most critical positions at SEPTA. We can’t be successful without our ADs,” said Ron Hopkins, SEPTA assistant GM, operations. “That’s why we developed the AIM AD program — to provide current supervisors the opportunity to expand their institutional knowledge through interaction with SEPTA leadership and introduction to a variety of jobs across the authority.”

SEPTA's AIM AD employee development program students celebrated their graduation along with program facilitators Jennifer Barrett and Josh Gottlieb (shown seated in front of studetns). Photo: SEPTA

SEPTA's AIM AD employee development program students celebrated their graduation along with program facilitators Jennifer Barrett and Josh Gottlieb (shown seated in front of studetns). Photo: SEPTA

During the year-long program, students attended class every Thursday. They participated in 41 days of structured learning focused on core competencies and business processes for operations managers, went on site visits, engaged in dialogue with guest speakers from across the authority, and attended a SEPTA board meeting. For the program’s capstone, class members formed eight teams and collaborated on interdisciplinary group projects, each one sponsored by at least one member of SEPTA senior management.

“We asked the class members to look past the obvious when developing their business case and researching their issues,” said Josh Gottlieb, SEPTA director, administration and finance of surface transportation.

Projects ranged from developing a safety program to have employees comply with wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to increasing customer satisfaction by streamlining the customer service response process and developing an employee compliance program for ADA regulations.

Celebratory cake. Photo: SEPTA

Celebratory cake. Photo: SEPTA

“Students met regularly with their project sponsors for feedback,” said Gottlieb. “They conducted site visits throughout the authority, reached out to other transit organizations, and did cost analysis for their solutions. The results were all impressive.”

During the final project presentations, Hopkins challenged the AIM AD class to continue working on their projects and come back in six months to see the progress they had made in bringing their plans to fruition.

“We knew we had an exceptional class when we started in November 2015. That was proven with the number who have received promotions already and those who are on their way to moving up within the organization,” said Barrett. “I am sure that when we meet on June 1, 2017, many of the projects will be in the pipeline to be adopted by the authority.”   

Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

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Heather Redfern
Heather Redfern

Public Information Manager, SEPTA

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