As Judy Dennis sees it, she has it pretty good. "I live in Denver, but my company's in San Diego and my territory is west of Colorado, which includes Southern California, so I've got a perfect world, really," she says. "Finding a career that I love in the transit world is a huge success for me," Dennis says. "It's easy sometimes to find a job; it's not always easy to find a job that you really like and you're good at."
She's also been successful in traditionally male-dominated fields; as vice president of a construction firm and, later, in the transit industry. "I think transit has been, for a long time, kind of a man's world and now there are many successful women," she says.
Dennis was born and raised in South Dakota and attended college at Metropolitan University in Denver, where she studied criminal justice with the intention of going on to law school. However, her career in sales took off early, and it was while working for a construction firm as a business development director that she was exposed to the transit world.
"One of my clients at the time was RTD (Regional Transportation District) here in Denver," she says. She joined a local transit advocacy group and began working to spread the word on the benefits of public transportation.
Two years ago, she joined electric hybrid drive system manufacturer ISE Corp., where she handles sales and account management for the western states. Her primary sales focus is the gasoline-electric hybrid drive system and the recently announced compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid system.
"Every day, I learn something new because our product is extremely technical," Dennis says. "That's one of the things I love about the job too, because it is so challenging to me. We're in a brand new area of technology and it's very cutting edge. This technology is changing daily. It's going from hybrids to all-electric, and there are a lot of great companies in the market that are developing all kinds of new products."
Dennis says her ability to work with clients and listen to their needs has been a key skill in her sales success. "The customer has to articulate to you what issues they're having, and you have to be able to listen to that. I'm able to develop strong relationships out of respect for the people I work with," she says.
In her current position, Dennis has developed successful relationships with officials at California's Long Beach Transit, Torrance Transit and San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. "They're just really great people to work with and it's been a huge pleasure for me to work with them and develop friendships," she explains. "That's really a huge compliment. It makes my job so much easier and, hopefully, I help them in a bigger way."
Because of the state's stringent air quality regulations, Southern Californian transit agencies have been the biggest players in the hybrid-electric market, Dennis says. "We have accounts throughout the U.S., but not nearly like the Southern California area," she says. "Companies like Long Beach Transit have been huge supporters of the product. There are issues with every new technology that comes out. But if you have a good relationship with your customer, then you work through those issues."
Because a healthy lifestyle is important to her, Dennis tries to exercise every day. "Because I travel a lot with my work, it's hard sometimes to exercise, so I try to make that a priority," she says. In addition, she estimates she spends about 30 to 40 percent of her personal time on volunteer work when she's at home in Denver, having served as president of Cancer League of Colorado, an organization that raises funds for cancer research in the state. Dennis also works with a school for underprivileged children. "It's a huge part of my life," she says.
In her free time, she works on her golf game. "I try to improve every year, although if you play golf, you know that's hard!" she says.