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Tips from The Top with Dr. Beverly Scott


“Transportation picked me; I didn’t really pick it. The reason I’ve stayed in it all of these years is because of the difference we make, the genuinely profound impact we have on people and communities,” - Dr. Beverly Scott.

In 1979, Dr. Beverly Scott transitioned to a career in transportation as the first Director of Affirmative Action after a career in academia. This was the beginning of Dr. Scott’s career in the public transportation industry which spans more than three decades, including four appointments as General Manager/CEO – General Manager, Massachusetts Bay Transportation and Rail & Transit Administrator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the Sacramento Regional Transit Authority (SRTD), and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), one of four statewide public transit systems. She has also served in senior level positions at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York), New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJT), the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA), Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), and the Houston Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Houston METRO).

Dr. Scott is recognized throughout the U.S. and North American transportation industry for her visionary leadership, results driven management style; focus on people and communities; and progressive approach to labor management relations. Throughout her career, she has received numerous awards and recognitions, i.e., the 2015 Hubert Humphrey Award for Distinguished Public Service from the American Political Science Association (APSA), 2015 Government Sector Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Service, the prestigious Sharon A. Banks Humanitarian Service Award from the Transportation Research Board, National Academies of Science; named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar. In 2012, she was named a “Transportation Innovator of Change” by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Transportation for her long record of exemplary leadership and service in the transportation industry.

Dr. Scott has embraced multiple opportunities in the transportation industry along her career journey. When asked about her reflections, she said, “I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have jobs, but to have missions, experiences, and exposure, and more times than not be part of teams that were genuinely focused on giving their best effort to serve people and communities.”

This is her advice for a successful career in transportation:

Never Give Up

 “Do not let something take you out. Scrapping might not be how it is in the storybooks, but if you get knocked down two times—get up three. Absolutely nothing and no one can take you out unless you let it happen.”

Leave the Right Way

While at Houston Metro, Scott knew that the General Manager did not envision growth for her role—knowing it wasn’t a good fit, Scott decided to leave. Her advice: “I would have developed a better exit strategy. The best time to get a job is when you have one.”

Know the History

“Atlanta has a lot of great things, but it’s one of the most divisive cities on the issue of regional transit. MARTA was literally born out of old southern style race politics and civil rights. It unfortunately manifests itself in old local acronyms like ‘MARTA—Moving African American Rapidly Through Atlanta,’ as well as some of the most arcane legislative provisions.” Scott made it a top priority to serve the transit dependent communities by increasing funding—community involvement was an important part of her success.

Take Pride

“I take personal pride in wanting things to be done well and right. Leaders need to have a vision. You’ve got to set expectations as to what’s acceptable from yourself and others.  And be clear about them. Be very centered in terms of your values.”

Quotes for this article are attributed to Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom by Grace Crunican and Elizabeth Levin.




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