Seeing the Job From the Outside In

Over the course of my life, I have held many different roles, in various industries including legal, regulatory and government relations, sales & marketing, business & corporate development, finance, IT, in companies in the computer, telecommunications, software, advertising and transportation sectors. Some were private entrepreneurial ventures while others were publicly-held institutional companies.

By listening, observing and questioning everything, by investing myself into every position, I grew and made mistakes, and I also learned a great deal. Those learnings from mistakes are what I refer to as my expertise. I now find myself working in the pursuit of the public interest – this time in the realm of public transportation.

I have learned that one of the most important abilities in business, especially when it comes to a customer-facing company like VIA Rail, is to see and understand the business from an outsider’s perspective, with fresh eyes. Staying inspired is essential. Keeping abreast of trends, being adaptive and taking action to keep the company relevant is how one evolves and works to secure a company’s long term success.

In my office are some of the most inspiring books I’ve read – those that keep the curious and ambitious mind on its toes, those that inspire and challenge the reader to do better, and those that help one form that vital outsider’s point of view. Here are a few of them:

The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the way you work to succeed in the consumer revolution, by Brian Solis

The Upside: the 7 strategies for turning big threats into growth breakthroughs, by Adrian J. Slywotzky

Making the Impossible Possible, by Masatake Matsuda

Work Like You’re Showing Off! The joy, jazz and kick of being better tomorrow then you were today, by Joe Calloway

Since my appointment as President and CEO of VIA Rail a year and a half ago, I have tried to help every department to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of our customers, the ones we have today and the new ones we need tomorrow. Thanks to our team’s willingness to embrace change, to make change a constant feature of our work, I believe we are more relevant and top-of-mind in people’s consideration of travel options. VIA Rail’s success is dependent on each of us staying inspired and continuing to challenge ourselves.

If you have any book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them. You can write to me through my Twitter account @VIARailPrez.

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