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Corporate Tradeshow Manager TranSystems Corp.
Ashley Backhus knew nothing about railroading when TranSystems Corp. hired her five years ago as a business development coordinator. Assigned to the company's Kansas City rail team, Backhus tasked herself with getting to know the industry as quickly as possible.
Her desire to learn all things rail led her to the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), where she joined Committee 14 (Yards and Terminals) and Committee 24 (Education and Training). For the former, she helped redevelop an intermodal seminar; for the latter, she helped set up the Student Speakers program. And this month, she will be installed as secretary of Committee 24.
At TranSystems, she set up the company's social media profiles; then she helped rail industry peers connect online by creating LinkedIn groups for AREMA members and for short line and regional professionals.
As TranSystems' tradeshow manager, Backhus has given the company a "more organized presence" at events, according to regional Vice President Tim Rock, who nominated Backhus as a Rising Star. Last year she developed a TranSystems' mentorship program for college students attending AREMA's "Meet the Next Generation" event.
Away from the office, Backhus heads up a college scholarship foundation established in memory of her late father, Michael Pate. She also is developing a search engine, www.planmytournament.com, for golf-tournament event planners.
"My dad. I started working for him when I was 19 years old. He challenged me with tasks and made me proactively educate myself about business and different perspectives."
Her five-year plan?
"Continuing to train people on tradeshow marketing and social media. I like working with people to help them solve problems."
An interesting fact?
"I've lived in six different states and at 20 different addresses."
Her favorite pastime?
"Spending time with my husband, Andy; and my 1-year-old baby, Gavin. I also like to travel, entertain and read."