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Nominator's quote: "Amanda has facilitated completion of dozens of public grade crossing safety projects, working with state transportation officials to successfully construct and improve warning devices and close redundant crossings across her territory. Her approach is one of engaging collaboration with outside partners, while still adhering to the highest of safety standards. As a result, her positive impact is not just within the company, but extends to the hundreds of communities served by CSX." — Rusty Orben, CSX
Education: Michigan Technological University, A.A.S. in civil engineering technology; B.S. in construction management.
Job responsibilities: New at-grade crossing warning device installations, at-grade crossing consolidations and facilitating any type of construction project impacting operating right-of-way. Works across the four-state region of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois with the help of a team of consultants.
Career path: After graduating from Michigan Tech in 2007, joined CSX as a management trainee; completed a nine-month training course in CSX's engineering department in Atlanta. In 2008, became a construction engineer in Richmond, Virginia, serving as field manager for railroad construction projects. In 2012, accepted current position as project manager of public projects in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.
How did you get into the railroad industry? When I entered college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with when I "grew up," but I lived on a farm and decided I liked working outside. I chose construction management as a field of study because it combined civil engineering, surveying and business management into one program. I had never dreamed I would work for a railroad, but a CSX manager gave a presentation during my construction scheduling class that I found interesting. I applied with CSX at Michigan Tech's career fair that day.
What is the best career advice you've received? Two things: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Be open to genuinely connecting with other people. Work with colleagues with an open mind and a ready smile — and take the time to listen to them and get to know them. It's a very small world here in the railroad industry, and the more people you connect with now, the more efficiently you operate in the future.
"Run the day or the day runs you." Effective time management is a life skill for everyone. It's easy to lose yourself in your work and forget about the rest of your life. Make time for family, personal development, hobbies and exercise. You will be a happier, more effective person as a well-rounded being.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? The same advice that I would give anyone: Get to know the people. Be open to feedback and ready to learn. And be confident that you are the right person for the job.
What was your very first job? I washed dishes at a small cafe. It wasn't glamorous, but I learned a strong work ethic early on.
Describe a fun fact about yourself: I recently started keeping chickens. My middle son and I really enjoy them. Not only are the fresh eggs delicious, the chickens are great entertainment.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I am married with three young boys. They keep us busy with their activities and sports. My husband and I also manage two small businesses: a home renovation company and a successful network marketing business. We enjoy using our extra income from these ventures to remodel our fixer-upper "mini-farm" we bought a couple years ago.
What is the rail industry's biggest challenge? Personally, my biggest challenge has been finding that balance between being a mother and having a career. We welcomed my first child just two years into my career at CSX, and as a young working mother, I definitely struggled finding a balance between my high expectations for my own work performance and the all-consuming task of being a mother. With strong support from my husband and some conversations with my manager, I have been able to be successful as both a mom and a railroader. I firmly believe that any challenge you face can be overcome with open communication and a willingness to problem-solve.