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Meet Susannah Kerr Adler!

Susannah Kerr Adler
Executive Vice President, General Manager-Regional Operations SYSTRA Consulting Inc./SYSTRA Engineering Inc.
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Policy & Planning Committee, ­Leadership APTA Class of 2003; Chair, Leadership APTA and ­Sustainability committees

How many people are employed at your organization? Please describe its scope.
SYSTRA is a global leader in planning, engineering, design, program management, and construction management for transportation systems and associated facilities.

With approximately 4,600 employees, SYSTRA benefits from more than 50 years of international experience and more than 25 years of work in the North American market. In 2013, SYSTRA reported revenues of $550 million and currently manages more than 3,000 contracts with operations in 78 countries.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have actively worked in public transit for the past 22 years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
While growing up in New York City, I lived on buses and the subway and always assumed they were part of everyone’s life. It wasn’t until my first job out of college that I truly learned to appreciate the time and energy that goes into every decision, be it design or the operations of a system.

Coupling that experience with the privilege of some mentors early in my career who were passionate and engaged in the transit industry, I never thought twice of another career.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I attended my first APTA event in 1998 and have been engaged since then.

What have you found to be the most ­valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped you do your job.
The benefits are twofold. First and foremost are the people, in particular the friendships and the camaraderie that have developed while working collaboratively on industry-wide issues—whether it is defining what sustainability means for the industry and developing subsequent standards and metrics around that, or mentoring and working with the next generation of industry leaders.

Second, APTA provides an invaluable resource as a forum for advocacy, innovation, and information sharing. Given SYSTRA’s global breadth and experience, the ability to put the nature of our work within the context of the U.S. environment enables us to be a stronger partner on projects and programs.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.
Currently I serve on the Board of Directors and chair both the Sustainability Committee and Leadership APTA. I am active with the Business Member Board of Governors’ Business Development Committee as well as several modal committees.

My early involvement was through the conferences, but following my participation in the 2002/2003 class of Leadership APTA, I was able to get more actively engaged in meaningful ways.

What do you like most about your job?
Every day is different. My role at SYSTRA encompasses business operations, project development and delivery, as well as engagement with our client base across a range of geographic regions.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
While SYSTRA is perceived as a rail systems engineering firm, we are owned by two operating rail organizations that give us a unique perspective on how to approach our work.

Additionally, SYSTRA has a corporate focus on innovation and has pioneered technologies ranging from off-wire technology for streetcars and dynamic 3D condition assessments of infrastructure to proprietary operations planning software, like RAILSIM X, an analytical tool that accurately simulates all facets of any rail system.
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