Ann Derby, director of marketing and events for INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc., got her start in education. An accomplished teacher, Derby began as an assistant at a local private school and was promoted to lead teacher within the year. She then went on to become a middle school department head and was even named “teacher of the year” before leaving to pursue the thing she was always in love with — event planning.
Whether volunteering to organize school meetings or fundraisers for her church, Derby describes a unique draw to the field.
“Even as young as five years old I remember gathering all the kids in my neighborhood to organize skits,” says Derby. “In my adult years, the passion for event production only grew. I love organizing and promoting events where people can come together, enjoy themselves, and find a mutual connection.”
NATURAL SKILL. It is a skill that, according to Derby, comes very naturally to her, and she has been pursuing it actively for the past 15 years.
“I sometimes joke that working as a marketing professional is not very different than being a teacher,” says Derby. “If I am organizing field trips for students or bringing together staff for trade shows and conferences, the skill set needed is pretty much the same.”
Before landing her current position with INIT, Derby produced events for organizations including the Army and the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN). During her time with CBN, Derby helped coordinate the rebuilding of a Louisianan church, school, and home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
ROLE FOCUS. Her role grew to include advertising, promotions, and marketing, as well. So, when a marketing and events position at INIT opened up, Derby’s skill set was perfectly suited.
“Ten years later, I’m still promoting INIT solutions,” says Derby. “The technology is so exciting, and working in the transit industry has allowed me to be a part of a dynamic and evolving business, contributing to making public transit faster, safer, and more efficient.”
Currently, Derby’s tasks include everything from executing international conferences and trade shows to organizing customer events. Derby has a professional certification in trade show marketing through the Northern Illinois University’s Outreach program.
As well, she creates and implements strategic marketing plans and materials. Under Derby’s leadership, INIT has won the APTA AdWheel awards for best newsletter redesign in 2014 and best video in 2015. Derby just finished directing the redesign of INIT’s website as well.
TOP INITIATIVE. In 2012 Derby spearheaded a yearlong sustainability initiative to help INIT reduce its global footprint. The company was eventually awarded the “Zero Waste to Landfill” certification. The process involved planning a series of educational meetings, coordinating the efforts of all employees, and arranging a partnership with a local recycling facility. The facility collects carefully sorted office trash and takes it to a recycle center, where it is burned to create energy. That energy powers the local shipyard, which employs over 9,500 people.
On a sustainability kick, Derby also worked on a team of individuals that drafted the new guidelines for the APTA sustainability committee to achieve higher levels of social responsibility from APTA business members.
KEY EVENT. Derby is currently gearing up for the APTA Expo, where INIT has commissioned a local Atlanta-based street artist to paint a life-sized mural on the side of its exhibit booth. While at this year’s event, she will assume the role of APTA Expo Advisory Committee Chair for the 2017 to 2020 term.
“Seeing the passion and commitment transit workers convey in making their customers’ experience a good one motivates me to continually improve how we [INIT] provide innovative solutions,” says Derby.
In her spare time, she is pursuing a degree in business administration. Derby and her husband are also avid sailors and adventurers. Last year, they spent a week sailing around the Caribbean together.