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Kaleigh Reyes is a Rising Star

It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as one of Progressive Railroading magazine’s 2015 Rising Stars! It’s often said that the rail industry is a close-knit community – I would add supportive too, especially for women in the rail industry. The journey to the 2015 Rising Star list has been lined with lessons along the way that have helped me shine. Here are my top 10:

 

Build and cultivate a network. This is especially true for women in the rail Industry. Being involved in the League of Railway Industry Women has given me the opportunity to serve as both a mentor and mentee to other women in the industry

Be willing to hold positions in industry associations.  Serving as the vice president of the League of Railway Industry Women (LRIW) has been an invaluable experience for me. I am also an active participant on the ASLRRA Technology and PTC committees. There is no shortage of ways to get involved. Which brings me to my next point.

Get involved. GE Transportation attends Railroad Day on the Hill each year and 2015 was no exception. We influenced the members of Congress to help the rail industry on important topics like the 45G tax credit for short line railroads, opposition to larger truck size and weight on our nation’s highways, and extending the PTC implementation timeline. This is an important opportunity to support our industry and proves that there is power in numbers.

Keep learning.  With the support of the GE leadership team, I am currently enrolled at Penn State University where I am completing my Business degree, with plans to obtain an MBA.  Internally, GE offers hundreds of classes on a broad range of topics. Everything from ethical business practices, to learning about the Industrial Internet, and tools for being a more effective leader are available.

Be willing to enter the industry in an entry-level position. I joined the RailDOCS organization, later acquired by GE Transportation, as an administrative assistant.  I knew it wasn’t my forever job but it was a great start; one I entered with a positive, can-do attitude to which people noticed.

Become a subject-matter expert in something. For me, that’s been regulatory compliance and asset management. Bottom line - knowledge is power. 

Take pride in being a part of the railroad industry. After all, it is the backbone of the nation’s economy.

Bring new ideas to the table. Don’t think just because it’s the rail industry, people and processes can’t be influenced. Railroads are businesses and they could use our help.

Say yes, but know when to say no. Take chances on yourself. You will probably not get the same opportunity twice.  Just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.

Lean in. Sheryl Sandberg teaches us the importance of this behavior.  And I couldn’t agree more.

 

Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote by GE’s founder Thomas Alva Edison, “If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” I can’t say that when I joined the rail industry I thought I was capable of being a Progressive Railroading Rising Star, but, I am, and I’m astounded! I hope you will do something that will astound you this year!

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