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Kelle Williams, 37Vice president, real estatePioneer Lines
Nominator’s quote: “Kelle exhibits the kind of work ethic and professionalism that one wishes were characteristic of all colleagues.” — Nate Henderson, Pioneer Lines
Education: B.A. in finance, Georgia Institute of Technology. M.S. in information, security, engineering and management, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Job responsibilities: Revamping Pioneer Lines’ online presence, reviewing existing agreements to ensure company assets are protected and auditing railroads to ensure all encroachments and encumbrances are documented. Additionally, incorporating new programs and systems into the company’s work and researching new opportunities that will create a return on Pioneer Lines’ land and track assets.
Career path: Hired as a clerk at Norfolk Southern Railway in the crew call department. Promoted into the management training program before landing in damage prevention. Later, joined the real estate department and moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then moved to Denver, Colorado, and joined the OmniTRAX team.
How did you get into the railroad industry? After college, I was slated to work at E-Trade Financial Corp. I ran into an NS employee who mentioned they were hiring, and I applied. It ended up being the best decision of my life.
What is the best career advice you’ve received? “Go into work every day like you’re being interviewed.” You may not realize that people are watching, but they always are. I have been approached so many times with comments about how I handled myself on this call, or in this meeting, or with this person, from people who were not even in attendance.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Railroading is a great career, but it is not easy. Put in the time and hard work and you will get rewarded in due time.
What was your very first job? Worked at Circuit City in small electronics sales.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. I own a lifted H2 Hummer “monster truck.” Some people need a ladder to get in and out of it.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I am a foodie, so I typically engage my friends and loved ones in hunting down a new restaurant or eatery. I also love to go thrifting and antiquing to look for unique and unusual items.
How has the pandemic changed your views of your career and life in general? My team shifted to being 100% remote, something I never thought would work, but my department had the most lucrative year ever while we were working remotely for nine months. It made me realize that you don’t need to be tied to an office to be productive if you have a trustworthy workforce.