Keesha Davis “wasn’t raised” to job hop. With a father who worked nearly four decades for the U.S. Postal Service and a mother whose dedication to family and career didn’t stop her from also going back to school, hard work coupled with loyalty has always sat at the heart of Davis’ personal value system. And, luckily for her, she’s found a work culture she has no interest in leaving anyway.
At Union Pacific, where Davis has worked her way up from an Operations Management Trainee to Superintendent of Dispatching over the past 13 years, every day is different from the one before. While this variety keeps Davis on her toes (and keeps things from getting stagnant), one constant she’s found is the warmth and support of her colleagues.
“The employees are why I stay at Union Pacific,” she said. “There are a lot of amazing people here who inspire me daily to be the example they want to see in a leader. Plus, I have made some great friends here. My younger sister works here. I even met my husband of almost 10 years here at Union Pacific.”
This blend of being nurtured personally and challenged professionally has, for Davis, become synonymous with her time working for the railroad company. Recently, she spoke to us about that intersection, her most memorable piece of career advice and what it looks like to “literally help build America” every day.
How long have you been with Union Pacific? What about it made you first want to join?
I have been with Union Pacific for 13 years. I first joined as an Operations Management Trainee, because the idea of “playing” with trains every day seemed very interesting after college.
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at your company, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
Over the past 13 years, I’ve worked in four different departments: Intermodal Operations, Locomotive Management, Transportation Operations and now Train Management. In my current position, which is Superintendent of Dispatching, I am responsible for operating a safe and efficient mainline in order for our customers to receive an on-time product. What’s most exciting about this role is the fact that every day is different from the day before.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
Making difficult decisions and executing strategic initiatives.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
I always check on the team of employees first. It’s important to gauge how they are doing as individuals before we get the day started. I also follow up with them at the end of the day to make sure they don’t need anything or have any issues or concerns.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?
Personally I wasn’t raised to job hop. It’s just not in me to do. My father was a letter carrier for the U.S Postal Service for 38 years. My mother poured herself into her family and career and went to college at the same time. Growing up in this type of environment, you learn the importance of hard work, being loyal and believing things will work out the way they are supposed to.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at your company?
The employees are why I stay at Union Pacific. There are a lot of amazing people here who inspire me daily to be the example they want to see in a leader. Plus, I have made some great friends here. My younger sister works here. I even met my husband of almost 10 years here at Union Pacific. Not to mention, there are not many people who can say that every day they get to come to work and help literally build America.
What was the best quality of one of your favorite colleagues you’ve ever had?
Their ability to remain authentic through adversity would by far be the best quality of one of my favorite colleagues.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
I received a text message a few months ago that said, “It is critical in leadership positions to understand the human element. Be humble, ask questions and know that people will help someone who genuinely wants to learn. Get after it and smile. This is how you build true success.” I still have this text message saved.
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