2019 40 Under 40: Erin Fiorini

Sept. 13, 2019
Erin Fiorini, General Manager, Infrastructure Capital Finance, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Determined
  • Alma Mater: Saint Mary’s College, Indiana, DePaul University (graduate)
  • Favorite book: “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood 
  • Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”
  • Favorite movie: “The Family Stone” 
  • Favorite hobby(s): Singing, gardening, collecting vinyl records 
  • Fun fact about yourself: I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Penn. and I’m a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan living in Chicago.  
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Damen Blue Line – I really like the Wicker Park neighborhood and there’s a really good record store not far from that location. The Damen Blue Line station is also a historic station and the restoration work done at this location is just amazing. 
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): I love riding the Orange Line on the CTA because I grew up and currently live on the Southside of Chicago.  

Erin Fiorini began her career at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in 2005. Fiorini brought drive, passion and dedication to her role as an executive administrative assistant where she supported the mission and took on new challenges to ensure constant improvement. She has since moved up the ranks to where she now serves as the general manager of infrastructure capital finance for the CTA’s Infrastructure Department.

She oversees the fiver-year, $3 billion capital budget, which encompasses the CTA’s major improvements to bus and rail infrastructure. She also manages the CTA’s Program Management consultant and web-based project management system contract,  provides regular reports and updates to external funding agencies, and works with various CTA Departments and external parties to develop future capital projects and programs at the CTA. 

She doesn’t shy away from special projects and has worked on building and implementing an electronic invoicing system for contractors; and has completely revamped all the processes in the web-based project management system.

She’s involved in almost every major department initiative to some capacity and has helped get the department where it is today, letting her passion for her work to shine through. She actively mentors younger staff members to encourage job growth. 

She has been a driving force behind many of the innovative practices CTA utilizes today. Under her leadership, the Infrastructure Department is currently in the process of transitioning from a paper invoicing process for contractors to an electronic process. While she encountered a lot of opposition along the way, her strong relationships at the agency, great communication skills, and determination helped her be successful in this endeavor. 

She’s helping lead the CTA’s efforts to completely revamp all the web-based project management processes to incorporate lessons learned and industry best practices. While many people in the department are reluctant to adopt these changes at first, she works hard to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, new processes are rolled out effectively, and adequate training is provided.  

She is also currently leading an effort to migrate the cost management system from a series of spreadsheets and databases directly into the web-based project management system, so cost controls can be more seamlessly integrated into the projects. This has required a lot of research and some software customization, but she is willing to invest the time it takes to make sure CTA is in the best position possible when it comes to effectively managing construction project costs. Given how challenging cost controls can be on major transit infrastructure projects, her efforts to modernize the processes are critical to ensuring the success of current and future CTA projects.    

In the midst of all these initiatives she has taken on, she always takes the time to ensure she has an understanding of where every construction project is at a given point in time, and is there to provide advice to newer project managers who are less familiar with CTA processes. She is able to think quickly and use her strong communication and writing skills to take complex issues and break them down in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.     

 She is an incredibly important asset to the CTA. Throughout her thirteen and a half years at CTA so far, she has taken on every challenge she faces head-on and proven that even in the toughest circumstances she can prevail.

“I never imagined I would be managing large budgets on a regular basis nor working in the transit industry. My undergraduate and graduate degree is in English Literature and Writing. I started out at CTA writing Standard Operating Procedures as an intern and caught the transit bug to want to make a difference in the city of Chicago via our public transit system.”

“The most challenging part of my job is making sure we can build projects with the funding we have.  Public agencies have to make their resources stretch and part of my job is to make sure we spend money where the need is so we can continue to make improvements to our transit system.”

“It’s been a long road to get us to electronic invoicing and I’m not the first person at the agency to work toward this effort.  I’ve learned a lot from those before me of what worked and what didn’t.”