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Manager of Corporate Development CN
By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor
Prior to joining CN in 2007, François Belanger had no connections to rail. During his time at the University of Sherbrooke, he studied electrical engineering, after which he went on to work as a product manager at what’s now known as Nuera Inc., a manufacturing company in Quebec.
He remained with the firm for about three years before leaving to obtain his MBA from the University of Montreal. CN hired him as a business optimization specialist shortly afterward.
“By all standards I’m still a total newbie in the company and in the industry,” Belanger says.
In 2011, CN promoted Belanger to his current position as manager of corporate development, where he works on a team that leads CN’s various strategic initiatives, including acquisitions, alliances and business development.
Despite being a self-proclaimed “newbie,” Belanger’s played no small part in effecting significant changes at the railroad, according to CN VP Corporate Development François C. Hebert, who submitted a Rising Stars nomination for Belanger.
“François is a thoughtful leader who consistently delivers desired results,” wrote Hebert. “He is able to influence at all levels of the organization as well as with key external stakeholders.”
One achievement of note: Belanger led the development of the Iron Ore Logistics System website at CN, which aggregates information from several systems and displays it in near-real time. The system has helped centralize information, which in turn improved decision-making and overall efficiency, Hebert said.
Belanger’s also played a key role in implementing CN’s CustomerFIRST initiative, which improved customer-facing processes and tools. He worked on a small cross-functional team tasked with benchmarking, mapping and reviewing CN’s existing customer interfaces.
While newer railroaders can bring a wealth of fresh insight to the field, Belanger says it’s still incumbent upon them to learn from seasoned employees.
“Make sure that you get the best of their experiences and not repeat mistakes from the past,” he advises.
Rising Stars 2015 Award Winners:
Francois Belanger, CN
Todd Blaylock, HNTB Corp.
Jonathan Chastek, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co.
Oliver Dolder, Railtech Welding & Equipment
John Riley Edwards, RailTEC, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Stefan Loeb, Watco Cos. LLC
Jessica Moore, Union Pacific Railroad
Amanda Nightingale, King County Metro Transit
Celia Ann Pfleckl, Amtrak
Charles Rennick, Providence & Worcester Railroad Co.
Kaleigh Reyes, GE Transportation
Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, Federal Railroad Administration
Bruno Riendeau, VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Curtis Shogren, CSX Transportation
Alanna Strohecker, AECOM
Keith Tarkalson, Stacy & Witbeck
Brett Urquhart, Rocla Concrete Tie Inc.
Tara Vesey, Dakota Gasification Co.
Lexie Walker, Metra
Adam Weiskittel, BNSF Railway Co.