Union Pacific's Operating Excellence Prepares, Empowers Front-Line Decision-Makers

2024 Operating Excellence photo collage | L

Top left: Engineering team members discuss critical safety rules, observations and training best practices; bottom left: Members of the Mechanical team are recognized for their outstanding contributions to safety and employee engagement; bottom center: Transportation General Manager Matt Hall and General Director Bryan Thier coach attendees navigating an interactive tabletop exercise.

More than 1,000 Union Pacific Railroad Operating managers from every craft recently gathered in San Antonio, Texas, for Operating Excellence – a two-day workshop focused on developing leadership skills, business acumen and a deeper understanding of the critical role front-line teams play delivering operational excellence.

“Each year, the goal of our workshop is the same,” said Eric Gehringer, executive vice president-Operations. “We rely on the leaders in this room to identify improvement opportunities from what you learn here, and then be intentional about sharing those insights with your teams.”

Attendees from the railroad’s 23-state network heard from senior Operating leaders on topics supporting the railroad’s Safety, Service and Operational Excellence = Growth strategy.

“As leaders, our job is to plan, help our team execute and hold ourselves accountable,” said John Turner, senior vice president-Operations, who encouraged managers to consider the railroad as a whole when making decisions that could have a downstream effect.

Craft-specific breakout sessions focused on collaboration and accountability, helping managers understand the importance of empowering decision-makers closest to the work.

Mechanical managers developed personal action plans and set goals to support key safety, engagement, variability and productivity initiatives while Engineering leaders participated in hands-on injury-prevention sessions hosted off-site by the railroad’s Technical Training experts.

The Transportation, Premium Operations and Safety teams partnered with colleagues from Customer Care and Support, Network Planning and Operations, and the Harriman Dispatching Center to execute tabletop exercises focused on aligning collectively when facing critical decisions impacting the entire system.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop our network perspective,” said Manas Bharadwaj, senior director-Measures and Evaluation. “We’ve all been guilty at some point of not taking a holistic view of the decision at hand.”

Manager-Train Operations Crystal Mayberry said the exercises taught her to think outside the box and consider the systemwide service and cost impacts of local decisions.

“Considering all available alternatives enables us to make the best possible decisions,” Mayberry said. “These are principles we can apply to our daily work to achieve our safety, service and growth goals.”

Learn more about Union Pacific’s talent development efforts in the Building America Report. 

Share This!

Latest Stories