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July 2022

Rail News: People

Rising Stars 2022: Kael Peterson

Kael Peterson


Kael Peterson, 39
Superintendent of operations, Gulf Division

Nominator’s quote: “Kael is open to new ideas and is an active listener, working with his direct reports daily on new changes, operations and directives.” — Dorothea Klein, CN

Education: High school diploma. Completed three years of college at Pearl River Community College, but dropped out when Hurricane Katrina devastated my college campus.

Job responsibilities: Lead the Gulf Division operations, which includes southern Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri, Mobile, Alabama, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Oversee all aspects of the territory, including safety, operations, budgeting, hiring and discipline. Work with multiple departments from account management to engineering to make sure we meet our customers’ expectations and our personal/corporate goals.

Career path: Joined CN in 2010 as a conductor in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Promoted into CN’s management trainee program and held roles of trainmaster and assistant superintendent before becoming superintendent of operations.

How did you get into the railroad industry? I started out as a conductor in 2008 with CSX, was furloughed in 2009 and then hired by CN in 2010.

What is the best career advice you’ve received? Always be fair and impartial. Treat employees the way you want to be treated, and lead by example.

What advice would you give to a new railroader? You can look at the railroad as either a job or a career. A career can get you to any position in the company.

What was your very first job? I was forced to drop out of college due to Hurricane Katrina damaging the college I was attending, so I started my own business doing contract work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), two different power companies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I operated that business between 2005 and 2008 before starting with CSX.

Describe a fun fact about yourself. I met my wife in high school, and we have three beautiful children. I also love sports, and I’m a Jeep guy.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Spending time with the family, going to my kids’ sporting events and spending time on the water, either boating or fishing.

How has the pandemic changed your views of your career and life in general? It’s brought up new ideas for the use of technology, essential services and engagement.

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