Advancing Women in Transportation

Board Spotlight is on Bridgette Beato

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Bridgette Beato, CEO of Lumenor Consulting Group, is serving her first term as a Director on the WTSI Board. She has been a member of WTS for over 13 years and is driven to help achieve the WTS mission. We had the opportunity to talk with Bridgette about her passion for supporting WTS, learn more about her career path, and her perspectives on the advancement of women in the industry. 

Bridgette, your leadership on the WTS Board is truly appreciated, thank you for your dedication to fulfillment of the WTS mission. We want to know what drives your passion for supporting our mission and to learn about you and your career journey. Let’s start with your role at Lumenor Consulting Group. Can you tell us a little about the firm, and what you do?

Bridgette: Founded in 2007, Lumenor Consulting Group is a management consulting firm that provides strategic advisory, business and technology services to the transportation industry. We are a registered DBE/WBE/SBE recognized for providing premier services. Our firm helps agencies to optimize operations and enhance performance through the application of technology, transformation of business processes and effectively managing organizational change.

My role as the co-founder and CEO primarily involves providing advisory services to transit agencies and providing the strategic direction of the business.  In addition to my role on the WTS International Board, I am also actively involved in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and serve as the Co-Chair of the Systems Engineering Committee.

It’s always interesting to learn about where someone at your level first entered the transportation industry, can you tell us about the early days in your journey?

Bridgette: I graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Management Information Systems and began working on technology projects in gas transportation.  I then moved to supply chain and logistics, where I implemented global systems for Fortune 500 companies, including The Coca-Cola Company and Federal Express.  I first came to public transportation in 2005 when I was brought in to lead the $200M fare collection system implementation at MARTA which was the first 100% smart card system in North America.  During that project I recognized that technology would transform the industry and I decided to be a part of how innovation would shape the future of public transportation.  At the time there were very few firms that specialized in transit technology, so I started my own firm.  Eleven years later we can see how technology has introduced many disruptors and opened the opportunity for change.   

Why are you passionate about advancing women in transportation?

Bridgette: It’s no secret that we work in a male dominated field and that attracting and retaining women has been a challenge. As we promote women to study STEM fields, we need to make sure we have a landscape and opportunity for these women to have a successful career trajectory with leadership opportunities once they join the workforce.

The number of women joining the transportation industry has been growing but there is still an obvious challenge facing women in obtaining top level management roles. We need to stay focused on how to provide these opportunities and continue making strides to closing the gender gap. 

What has been your experience as it pertains to women in leadership roles? What have you witnessed during your career?

Bridgette: I was fortunate to have mentors from the start of my career.  There were limited women working in technology at that time, and I was lucky to have a female CIO in the private sector that mentored me. Now, I want to be sure to provide those same opportunities to women. By providing mentorship from the top levels of our industry we have the ability to retain, shape, and grow young talent and help raise the ranks of women in our industry.  Like me, many women take the route to start their own business as a way to create their own opportunities.  According to the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs with a mentor are five times more likely to launch a business and 80% of entrepreneurs with a mentor were still in business after a year.

What do you think is the best path forward to making change in the gender makeup of the transportation industry?

Bridgette: We need to implement programs to actively recruit and retain talent and provide access and career path to the top levels of our industry. Whether this be through executive management roles, starting your own business, or purchasing a business, we need to continue building this foundation for women to advance, grow, and innovate in the transportation sector.

We cannot stage a coup in terms of effecting radical change if we do not have the strong male counterparts alongside us.  We need to engage the supporting male allies who see the need for growth of women in technology in general and transportation specifically. 

Why did you feel it was important to join the Board of WTS?

Bridgette: I think it is important to establish an environment where women have an opportunity to be successful in whatever means they use to define that success.  Whether is in leadership at a large company or agency, by starting up their own firm or having the flexibility to work as an independent consultant.  Each of these is a significant departure from the norm of how the industry works today. For any of these to be successful, we need to establish a culture that supports and promotes women; through mentorship, education and opportunity. 

The transit industry has been very good to me. I quickly recognized the number of good people and the opportunity to build something lasting.  Many of my personal advancements came simply from someone giving me the chance.  That coupled with mentors that can help guide you, it is much easier to achieve your goals.

Being on the WTS International is very important to me because I want support women in general, but also give a voice to those that have or want to have their own business.  Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%, compared to just a 9% increase among all small businesses.  Women are now the majority owners of 38% of the country’s businesses, up from only 29% in 2007.  This shows how much opportunity there is for women. I want to raise awareness of women owned business and enhance the fact that you can succeed despite the challenges.  If we help each other, we will create even more opportunities for those that come after us.

What strategies do you feel will help bring WTS closer to achieving its mission?

Bridgette: We need to continue fostering an environment of collaboration and mentorship. In order to truly effect change, we need to have engagement of male and female leadership.  I think it is a very exciting time for WTS, as we have seen membership grow significantly amongst both men and women. 

WTS has programs that support women regardless of their goals. For example, WTS has a Business Owners Roundtable that provides a platform for networking, sharing business experiences, and collaboration.

Thank you, Bridgette!

WTS Board Members are an integral part of the success of our organization. Through the leadership of our past and present board members, WTS has become an international organization with more than 6500 members (including women and men) and 79 chapters. WTS is connected to a network of 40,000 transportation professionals.

 

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