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Jacqueline Martinez-Torres, 27Track maintenance managerMTA Metro-North Railroad
Nominator’s quote: “Jackie’s work in her short tenure with Metro-North has been instrumental for [us] to better manage track maintenance toward achieving a state of good repair.” — Catherine Rinaldi, MTA Metro-North Railroad
Education: B.S. in civil engineering, Syracuse University.
Job responsibilities: Plan, develop and oversee track maintenance projects across the New Haven Line and its branch lines. Involved in the material acquisition, project scheduling, inspection and right-of-way cleanup for large-scale track maintenance tasks. Manage more than 75 employees.
Career path: Interned at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad for two consecutive summers while in college. After graduation, hired into Metro-North's associate engineer program to work in different departments and locations across Metro-North's territory to learn railroad operations. After completing the program, became track maintenance manager for the New Haven Line.
How did you get into railroading? A career with the railroad was never "defined in the stars" for me. But I knew I wanted to work in the public sector, and as a New Yorker, in some way I wanted to give back to my city. This railroad is an operation that allows thousands of people to commute in and out of New York City every day with ease. It feels special to be a part of that.
What is the best career advice you’ve received? Always listen. Listening to others has allowed me to be more informed about decisions I’ve made. It has helped me create positive feedback communication and helped me build trust within my work groups. If you do not engage through listening, then you cannot learn.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Actively participate. Once you take something on — whether it is a project, a new responsibility or a simple task — take it seriously. Others can and will sense your effort. The effort you put in will make a lasting (positive or negative) impression on someone.
What was your very first job? I was a lead “explainer” for an after-school STEM program, called Iridescent Learning NYC, that catered to elementary/middle school students.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. You know those raffles at supermalls for a brand new, top-of-the-line car that you assume no one will ever win? I won.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I love to reset. I’ll do that by going on walks with my pup and spending time with my loved ones. For longer breaks, I love traveling, mainly to enjoy different cuisines around the world.
How has the pandemic changed your view of career and life in general? Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to be in a job that I’m happy to get up in the morning for and that appreciates my contributions and has great benefits that will allow me to support my family and health.
The pandemic led me to evaluate the actions I should be taking to foster my career and continue to contribute at work. It has put into perspective how some days can be very difficult, but I am extremely grateful to be healthy and have a job when so many others did not have that privilege during the pandemic and are unfortunately still struggling to find work.