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Nominator's quote: "[Ashley’s] calm, direct leadership style and ability to step into issues confidently [has] allowed her to earn the respect of both employees and managers." — Amanda Cobb, CP
Education: Revelstoke Secondary High School graduate.
Job responsibilities: Oversight of the safety, productivity and efficiency of train operations on CP’s mainline and yard operations in southern Alberta. Duties include supervising and coaching frontline managers, unionized conductors and engineers; ensuring safe operation, rules compliance and proper training; and coordinating with the operations center on crew utilization and operational decisions to maintain a PSR railroad.
Career path: At age 18, hired on as a conductor at CP in 2003 in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Joined the locomotive engineer training program in 2005; trained as a trainmaster in 2014, then became a road foreman/rules instructor. Promoted to assistant superintendent of the Mountain Division in 2019. In fall 2020, became assistant superintendent for southern Alberta.
How did you get into the railroad industry? After graduating from high school, I had always planned to further my education by going to college or university, but was unsure of what studies I wanted to take at the time. With limited career opportunities in the small town of Revelstoke, and CP looking to hire conductors, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and pursue a career at the railway.
Having grown up watching my father’s work ethic and lifestyle, I entered into the railway industry knowing the 24/7 on-call schedule, as well as the safety focus and commitment required on the job. At the time, I was unsure if it was a career path I would pursue long-term or not, but was intrigued by the opportunities for advancement, constant learning, ongoing challenges and problem-solving that the railway brings. I quickly realized it was a career path I wanted to continue down.
What is the best career advice you've received? Stay true to yourself and share knowledge with those around you, but also be willing to actively listen to others, as you can always learn something new that will help you along the way. No matter how long you work in the railway industry, there is always more to learn.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Ask lots of questions and try to absorb knowledge from as many experienced people you can encounter. Having context to understand “why” things happen the way they do, only makes you more efficient and effective at what you do, but also allows you to put your best foot forward and potentially identify new opportunities, thus driving the whole team to a new level together.
What was your very first job? During high school, I worked as a supervisor at the local A&W restaurant.
Describe a fun fact about yourself: I used to have a Canada goose named Kaslo as a pet. Found as a newborn on the tracks alone after its family had been the casualties of a freight train, it quickly bonded with my miniature dachshund Oscar. It followed Oscar everywhere and even loved playing in the snow in the winter. Eventually, after teaching it to fly, it was released into the wild.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Spending time with my dog, Oscar; fishing, kayaking, camping.
What is the rail industry's biggest challenge? There is no true education that prepares you to be a railroader. It is a unique environment that often takes years of experience to truly understand how to be effective and I find the biggest challenge is how to proactively bring people on board and expose them to as much of the vast experience and different facets of the railway, before the wisdom departs.