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Karen Monroy Lopez, 34 Community relations, corporate social responsibility coordinator Kansas City Southern de Mexico
Nominator’s quote: “[Karen’s] relentless effort to bridge Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM) to the communities we serve has created a positive goodwill among the Mexican people toward the rail industry. … It is Karen’s grassroots efforts that are at the heart and soul of our rail industry and promoting growth and development throughout all levels within Mexico.” — Jose Zozaya Delano, KCSM
What is your educational background? I hold a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences from the Universidad del Valle de Mexico and I’m currently studying for my master’s in public administration.
Describe your current job and responsibilities. As community relations and corporate social responsibility coordinator, my main responsibility is fostering relationships with the communities we serve through different social programs. One of many projects I oversee — and my favorite — is the “Tren Navideño” (Holiday Express Train). This is just one of the many projects in which KCSM has entrusted me to facilitate to give back to the communities in the areas served by KCSM.
Describe your career path. I am curious by nature and have always been willing to learn something new and continue to challenge myself to grow my skills and knowledge.
I’ve been with KCSM for nearly 10 years starting as a college intern while at the Universidad del Valle de Mexico, followed by being promoted three times to positions of increasing responsibility until landing in my current job in 2019.
How did you get into the railroad industry? When I was finishing college, KCSM’s President Office was looking for an intern who could help with administrative activities. I joined the company in 2009 and from that day on, I’ve been a committed railroader.
What is the best career advice you’ve received? "Always fight for your dreams" is the best piece of advice I have ever received. It applies to both my professional and personal life. It comes from my parents, who have always supported me by sharing my achievements and encouraging me when I need it most. "Always fight for your dreams," so that no one turns your inner light off.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Trust in your own decisions. When I first joined the company, I was just a teenager and it seemed that nobody believed in me since I lacked experience. I received a lot of advice from managers who made me learn and forge my professional growth and with it, have faith in the decision I made. I am very happy that KCSM empowers and entrusts in their employees — including me — so that we can learn, grow, and be successful. I am grateful for their trust that has empowered me to this day to carry out my work.
What was your very first job? I worked as a media content assistant in the General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography of the Ministry of the Interior.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. A few years ago, while visiting the town of Escobedo, Guanajuato, with the Tren Navideño Project, a boy approached me and gave me a beautiful drawing and then asked me for a photo and an autograph. His gesture made me so full of emotion that my eyes filled with tears. I am extremely pleased that the KCSM social projects come to mean so much to all in the community and especially the children.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I like running and cycling, both sports relax me; I also like going to the movies.
What is the biggest challenge the rail industry now faces or will face? I believe there is great opportunity related to technology to benefit innovation in the railway sector especially as it relates to cross-border and the international arena. One additional challenge is a continued focus on environmental awareness and sustainability.