This story appeared as a sidebar in the print version of a longer story, "Workforce Development: Who Will Run Transit Tomorrow?"
We asked a few successful women in top positions in transportation to give advice to other women — and men — who are trying to move up in their careers. Here are their responses.
“Take the time to expand your knowledge about other aspects of your company or agency. Knowledge about the “big picture” will distinguish you from your peers when it comes time for promotion. Too often we get bogged down in our day-to-day responsibilities. Ask questions — don’t be afraid to show what you don’t know. Seek out a mentor, or mentors, who can help you better understand the industry and who you can hold an honest dialogue with about your career.”
Chief of Staff
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
“Work hard to be super competent in the job you have. I have seen too many examples of men and women hungry for the next promotion but not taking care of the business they need to. Volunteer to take on more work and be assertive in asking for more responsibility. I think women are often too timid in letting their bosses know they want to do more.
Volunteer for organizational employee morale-building efforts where informal leadership becomes apparent. I have been blessed throughout my career with informal mentors who were willing to be sounding boards, advisors and cheerleaders. I would encourage women in our industry to look to men or women in their organization or a peer organization that they admire and ask for their advice and counsel. In my experience, people in the industry are very willing to grow talent.”
“Get involved in transit industry associations. Working on projects with others who are dedicated to the transit industry helps you connect and gives you an opportunity to share your leadership skills. Finding a seasoned member willing to help you navigate the “way things work” is very helpful. Being active in both SWTA and APTA helped me meet many people in the transit industry much faster than if I had not been involved. Once you understand the culture of the association, make yourself available as a navigator for someone new to the organization.”
Crystal Fortune Lyons LLC
“Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility. Learn something new every day. Especially for younger professionals, try to find a senior colleague who can be a mentor. Become known as an expert in something.”