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Senior Vice President of Human Resources Watco Cos. L.L.C.
Education: Pittsburg State University, bachelor's in psychology; Missouri State University, master's in industrial organizational psychology; University of Arkansas, pursuing doctorate in workforce development and human resources development
Career highlights: Peterson started as a recruiter at a Joplin, Mo., hospital, and was recruited by Watco to implement the company's human resource information system. She also has helped implement organizational change management for Watco's enterprise resource system. She left Watco in 2008 to relocate to northwest Arkansas to support a family business and begin doctoral studies, but returned to Watco in 2010 to develop the organization's corporate leadership university known as "Watco U."
Making a difference in rail: "My job is servicing and supporting our team members each and every day. … If we take care of our team members, our team members will, in turn, take care of our customers. From that standpoint, we are impacting the industry."
Active in: Society for Human Resources Management; Society for Industrial Organizational Psychologists; Association for Talent Development; United Way
Her philosophy: "Work hard; learn something every day; serve others; give it your best effort; love what you do; have fun."
Five-year career goal: "If I can create small wins every day for our Watco team members, then I will have met my career goals."
Interesting fact: "I grew up a sports fanatic. A lot of my family members were coaches. If you lived in my house as a child, you were playing every sport, every season."
Nominator's observation: "The rail industry has a workforce that is growing older, and in order to maintain the status quo qualified employees need to be brought in and taught leadership, management and financial skills to serve them as they step into the roles of those aging out. Rachael actively seeks solutions to this issue — not just for our company, but for the industry as a whole." — Tracie VanBecelaere, Watco Cos.