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Francisco Fabila, 34
Nominator’s quote: “Francisco is the consummate professional and it shows in all his interactions and relationships and as evidenced through his nomination to his current position at Ferrovalle. He is able to easily collaborate with peers, customers, executives and varying levels within the government and is able to skillfully gain collaboration from stakeholders regardless of party affiliation, ideologies or agendas.” — Jose Zozaya Delano, KCSM
What is your educational background?
I have a law degree with post-graduate studies in antitrust and corporate compliance.
Describe your current job and responsibilities.
I am the general manager of Ferrovalle (FTVM), a railroad comprised of three partners: Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM), Ferromex, and the SCT (Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes/Ministry of Communications and Transport), a government entity.
I joined Ferrovalle in February 2020 after seven years with KCSM. In this new role my primary responsibilities include making corporate decisions of all sorts — financial, operations, human resources, among others — managing the overall operations and resources of the company, acting as the main point of communication between the executive committee and the board of directors in order to bring growth with a positive impact for Ferrovalle. My main objectives are to increase the efficiency of our operations, reduce costs and modernize the company to align more efficiently to the standards of the Class I railroads in Mexico.
Briefly describe your career path.
In September 2013, I joined KCSM as their corporate affairs manager. During this time, I was in charge of establishing strong business relationships with all branches of government, closely monitoring all local and federal legislative activity, and representing KCSM in different chambers, councils and associations. I served in this position until I moved to Ferrovalle in February 2020.
While at KCSM, I also served as chairman of the Government Relations Committee of the Mexican Railway Association (AMF), the Mexican counterpart of the AAR, and vice president for legal and rule of law affairs of the American Chamber of Commerce Mexico. Prior to joining KCSM, I was part of the corporate compliance team of Walmart Mexico and Central America, where one of my responsibilities included serving as their government relations and legal representative in charge of the legal operations of stores and restaurants nationwide. I was with Walmart for five years. Prior to Walmart, I held various positions within the Mexican government and worked for the family business.
Why did you enter the railroad industry?
Actually, I feel fortunate because the opportunity to become a railroader came to me by luck. Back in 2013 a good friend of mine called me to see if I might be interested in joining KCSM as their corporate affairs manager. A month later I found myself working for the railroad where I never expected to develop such passion for an industry.
What is the best career advice you’ve received?
Always give your best, never settle, and always seek to do something that you are passionate about because when this occurs, it will stop being “work” and will be doing what you love to do.
What advice would you give to a new railroader?
I would tell him or her that s/he is fortunate to have joined such an exciting and dynamic industry — one that is always changing, without a dull moment, full of incredible people and with complete assurance that something new will always be learned. There are so many industries the railway touches that we play such a vital role in the national and global economies.
What was your very first job?
My first job back in high school was as a translator where I translated technical manuals for the operation of different machinery.
Describe a fun fact about yourself.
I am a very driven person who won’t settle until I get what I want. In this case, perseverance is joined by a passion to work in this sector. This fortunately makes all the effort behind my work become pleasant because I have been repeatedly told that I am a person who does whatever needs to be done in order to achieve a goal. Noticing that this is not such a “fun fact,” I have lived in Mexico City and experience as many earthquakes a regular person needs to experience. Some of those were pretty bad.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
During weekdays I like to run to stay in shape and exercise. But on weekends my passion is mountain climbing (alpinism). In Mexico, we have some great mountains.
What is the biggest challenge the rail industry now faces or will face?
The greatest challenge that the railways have is to guarantee the continuity of our service, even with the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting to us. We have to work tirelessly so that our operations are the safest, as possible, for our employees since society and the economy itself depend on the continuity of our services. Then there will be an arduous recovery work in terms of service, volume and customer service in order to help boost all the sectors in which we participate with a final objective to help economic growth.