New President of Amtrak

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jis

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Amtrak has a new President

 

zephyr17

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Amtrak has a new President

Damn. I was so excited when I read the headline because I thought the Board had canned Gardner's sorry butt. He still remains as CEO. And Harris is yet another airline guy 😡

🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬Clark Griswold's opinion. Substitute "Stephen Gardner" for "Frank Shirley"
 
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And Harris is yet another airline guy
I didn’t see this in a quick check of his background but did find this about Harris:

“ Prior to Amtrak, he held a wide range of senior leadership roles with CSX, including Vice President, Mechanical, Chief Mechanical Officer, and AVP Network Operations – Locomotive Management.”

So at least he knows what a train is! Hopefully he will be more competent than Gardner and maybe fix Chicago mechanical shops problems.
 

joelkfla

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I didn’t see this in a quick check of his background but did find this about Harris:

“ Prior to Amtrak, he held a wide range of senior leadership roles with CSX, including Vice President, Mechanical, Chief Mechanical Officer, and AVP Network Operations – Locomotive Management.”

So at least he knows what a train is! Hopefully he will be more competent than Gardner and maybe fix Chicago mechanical shops problems.
But CSX doesn't seem to have a very customer-oriented culture. Hopefully he doesn't bring that with him.
 

zephyr17

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I didn’t see this in a quick check of his background but did find this about Harris:

“ Prior to Amtrak, he held a wide range of senior leadership roles with CSX, including Vice President, Mechanical, Chief Mechanical Officer, and AVP Network Operations – Locomotive Management.”

So at least he knows what a train is! Hopefully he will be more competent than Gardner and maybe fix Chicago mechanical shops problems.
That's Gerhard Williams, the new VP of Service Delivery & Operations, who does seem solid and has a good railroad background. The former VP of Service Delivery and Operations, Scot Naparstek "retired" and, based on results he got in delivering service and maintaining operations, deservedly so. Naparstek had only been in the position since January 2022 and his pre-Amtrak experience was in HR. Scot Naparstek, Executive Vice President, Service Delivery & Operations | Amtrak

The wording of the press release left a little to be desired in clarity as to who was who. It also completely left out Harris' pre-Amtrak experience, perhaps deliberately so, since Williams' background has a lot of focus in it.

Roger Harris is an airline guy from AeroMexico (?!)
"Before joining Amtrak, Roger served as Senior Vice President of Revenue, Distribution & Alliances for Aeroméxico, which is Mexico’s flag carrier and largest airline with $3 billion in annual revenue."

And Stephen Gardner remains CEO.
 
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zephyr17

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Whay does a company need both a President and a "CEO"?
Lots of companies do, CEO generally being more externally focused, President more internally. What I does seem weird at Amtrak is the "Chief Commercial Officer" which is nothing I've seen elsewhere and appears to have duties a lot like a somewhat reduced "President".

The only that appears to be missing at Amtrak is a "Chief of Chief Officers".🙄
 
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zephyr17

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Thanks for the correction. And before Aeromexico, was with Delta, Northwest, and KLM also in revenue management. Sounds like Amtrak pricing is about to get crazier!
Well, he was in charge of the current pricing strategy since Pricing and Revenue Management were already in his portfolio as "Chief Commercial Officer", so same-o, same-o there.

The confusion is understandable based on how that press release was constructed.

All in all this seems like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. After it sank.
 

zephyr17

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Or maybe we now have a operation focus administrator, so Garden can hang out with Congress friends more.

I really don’t see a downside to this.
You realize Harris, the new President, is not an operations guy. He is another airline suit.

They got a new VP of Service Delivery and Operations, Williams, whose promotion does appear to be a good thing as he does have a deep railroad operations background. The press release touted Harris, but completely ignored his pre-Amtrak background, while going pretty far into Williams' pre-Amtrak railroad experience. It is easy to get confused when the subordinate guy actually got more space in the press release than the top guy did.

Amtrak President Harris appears to be another clueless airline guy hired by Anderson. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
 

Ryan

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This "airline guy" crap is really tiresome. Executive leadership is executive leadership, and there's nothing magical about trains that requires one to have spent their entire career in trains to make an effective leader of Amtrak.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I was made the ASW Officer on my first ship. Didn't know the first thing about hunting submarines, but I had 30 well trained dudes that had done this their entire careers to handle that part of the job. My job was leadership, direction, and making sure my guys had what they needed to get the job done, and then get out of the way ant let them do it. 18 months into that tour, with my relief aboard and coming up to speed, the XO pulled me aside and said that I was going to A-gang. The auxiliary division owned everything in the engineering plant that wasn't propulsion, electricity, damage control, or poop. HP and LP air, water makers, chill water, all of the random equipment that makes a ship function,. Didn't know the first thing about that either, but the division was a hot mess, and a healthy dose of leadership was required. Second ship I was the Navigator - actually knew something about that from being a qualified watch officer on the bridge. Admin officer too, and I *really* didn't know jack about that job. The trend has continued in civilian life, jobs of increasing responsibility and scope of control, changing topics every few years. I don't know how to do the job that anyone that I supervise does, but that's what they are there to do. The leadership, direction, and making sure my people have what they needed to get the job done hasn't changed in 20 years.

Give me someone with good skills at the top, and I don't care what their background is. What matters is that they get the job done, even if they are an.... "airline guy"...
 

Just-Thinking-51

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I did catch that. But have “I have achieved my level of incompetence” Garden out of operations is good. Have a airline guy is not a complete bad thing, yes it could be better, but it still much better than what we had.

The new service deliver guy has a full plate, but with a background to know where to start working on issues.

Again I just don’t see a downside to this.

Garden has skill dealing with Congress, and now he can stick to his knowledge base.
 

zephyr17

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"Hired by Anderson" is a pretty big red flag as far as I'm concerned, and the airline guys generally have a pretty bad track record at Amtrak, so it isn't like there's no evidence. My opinion of the "airline guys" is neither groundless or mindless, there's a track record there. My general opinion is they think airlines are similar, which they aren't, and they think their industry-specific experience applies when it often doesn't.

As to having railroad experience, I actually agree that isn't necessary. I'd jump up and down for joy if someone with executive customer service experience from an organization with an excellent reputation in that area, like Disney, were hired on.

From Aeromexico? By Anderson? Not so much.

From CSX for operations, right on!
 

Ryan

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My opinion of the "airline guys" is neither groundless or mindless, there's a track record there. My general opinion is they think airlines are similar, which they aren't, and they think their industry-specific experience applies when it often doesn't.
That's an awfully broad stereotype you have there.
 
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That's Gerhard Williams, the new VP of Service Delivery & Operations, who does seem solid and has a good railroad background.
That guy will be the key to getting Amtrak back on track (no pun intended). The two above him won't matter so much so long as (and that's critical) they let him do his thing and give him the resources to get it done.
 

zephyr17

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That guy will be the key to getting Amtrak back on track (no pun intended). The two above him won't matter so much so long as (and that's critical) they let him do his thing and give him the resources to get it done.
True, hopefully they'll do management 101, pick the right person for job, then stand back and support them in doing it.
 

zephyr17

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I may have misunderstood you, but just to be clear, I was referring to Gerhard Williams.
Yeah, I know, to make myself clear, I'll eliminate the pronouns and amend that to
"Hopefully, Gardner and Harris do management 101, and pick the right person (Williams) for the job, then stand back and support Williams in doing it."
 

cirdan

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This "airline guy" crap is really tiresome. Executive leadership is executive leadership, and there's nothing magical about trains that requires one to have spent their entire career in trains to make an effective leader of Amtrak.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I was made the ASW Officer on my first ship. Didn't know the first thing about hunting submarines, but I had 30 well trained dudes that had done this their entire careers to handle that part of the job. My job was leadership, direction, and making sure my guys had what they needed to get the job done, and then get out of the way ant let them do it. 18 months into that tour, with my relief aboard and coming up to speed, the XO pulled me aside and said that I was going to A-gang. The auxiliary division owned everything in the engineering plant that wasn't propulsion, electricity, damage control, or poop. HP and LP air, water makers, chill water, all of the random equipment that makes a ship function,. Didn't know the first thing about that either, but the division was a hot mess, and a healthy dose of leadership was required. Second ship I was the Navigator - actually knew something about that from being a qualified watch officer on the bridge. Admin officer too, and I *really* didn't know jack about that job. The trend has continued in civilian life, jobs of increasing responsibility and scope of control, changing topics every few years. I don't know how to do the job that anyone that I supervise does, but that's what they are there to do. The leadership, direction, and making sure my people have what they needed to get the job done hasn't changed in 20 years.

Give me someone with good skills at the top, and I don't care what their background is. What matters is that they get the job done, even if they are an.... "airline guy"...

I agree with the essence of what you are saying. But this applies most of all when things are going fairly well. When all the junior and middle management positions are occupied by people who know what they are doing and you trust them to do it right, and you can see your own job as there to give them what they need to do it even better and give everybody an overall sense of direction and leadership.

When on the other hand you have an organisation that is failing in many respects, not just due to poor direction or leadership at the top but due to incompetence all the way down the ladder with the wrong people being appointed to the wrong jobs, and nobody being any the wiser because incompetence cannot spot incompetence, I think it does take somebody with a deep understanding of how things should be done to look at the company structure point by point and hire the right people and design the right reporting structures and essentially gut it and rebuild everything from scratch. Generic leadership or management skills don't really help very much in such a situation because you are essentially in the salt mine fixing nuts and bolts.
 

MccfamschoolMom

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Whay does a company need both a President and a "CEO"?
Our law firm's biggest client (a bank) has separate President and CEO. The CEO used to be President/CEO, and the current President used to be Senior VP/Chief Lending Officer. Our attorneys tell me that the client's CEO is nearing retirement age, and their President is the likely future President/CEO.
 
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