Many departments at Metrolink are helmed by some of the most brilliant and fierce women leaders. We recently caught up with Jennifer Vides, one of our top executives. As the Chief Customer Experience Officer, Jennifer taps into the skills of her staff of front-line representatives, marketers, public affairs experts, writers, designers, analysts, project managers and more to create the best possible experience for all Metrolink riders. Our website, our social media channels, our SoCal Explorer rewards program, our 2019 Holiday Express Train, Kids Ride Free on Weekends, the 5-Day Flex Pass, health and safety communications and countless other efforts: Jennifer Vides has played a pivotal role in bringing ideas to life to enhance the lives of our riders.
We recently caught up with Jennifer and she shared a few words of wisdom about her experience and her philosophy as a leader.
Metrolink: What challenges have you conquered that you are the most proud of in regard to being a top leader in a male-dominated industry?
Jennifer Vides: Second-guessing myself. When I joined Metrolink I thought I had a disadvantage in not knowing the transportation industry. So at first I swung between overcompensating and apologizing for my self-perceived weaknesses. At some point I realized I brought something to the mix nobody else had, and became confident in my contributions and comfortable with asking questions of my male colleagues. It turns out they didn’t mind explaining rail stuff to me and (I think) genuinely appreciate how my different perspective has helped us to transform how we approach customer experience, marketing and communications today.
Metrolink: How can successful women leaders send the ladder back down to empower the next generation of leaders to strive for success?
Jennifer Vides: Teaching, coaching and mentoring are important (though obvious). I also believe women should also hold other women accountable for keeping high standards, period. That’s not standards that are higher than what’s expected of men, or others in the organization. It’s high standards for their own performance, and for how they live up to their personal brand.
Metrolink: How can male professionals ally themselves most effectively in the ongoing fight for equity?
Jennifer Vides: It sounds cliché, but if you see something, say something. Have our backs like you have your dude’s back. It’s really that simple.
Metrolink: Which 3-5 women leaders inspire you most?
Jennifer Vides: (1) Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a trailblazer…and she spent her career on the bench inspiring and advocating for other women – as well as others who are to this day fighting for equality. As a cancer fighter/beater myself, I’m also inspired by her determination and focus in beating back the disease multiple times through a combination of living a healthy life (diet, exercise), positivity and fight.
(2) Stephanie Wiggins. I can say with absolute sincerity I’ve never had a smarter or more driven boss. She’s tough, but fair. She’s an advocate for good ideas, which can come from anywhere. And she’s a genuine advocate for women and people of color in our fight for equity.
(3-5) My mom and my two sisters. We’re a tough but loving bunch. I couldn’t accomplish what I have – personally or professionally – without their unique contributions to my life.