2020 40 Under 40: Alisha Garrett

Aug. 18, 2020
Alisha Garrett, Director of Culture and Talent Development, Utah Transit Authority
  • One word to describe yourself: Passionate
  • Alma Mater: Westminster College
  • Favorite hobby(s): Ballroom Dancing, Gardening, Traveling the world with my hubby.
  • Fun fact about yourself: I have mad forklift driving skills. 
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Gare Du Nord will forever be my most memorable station I have ever visited. Paris, France, was not only my first adventure out of the country but also my first time using transit for the entirety of my trip. I was amazed at how beautifully the transit system was integrated into the daily lives of Parisians. The breathtaking views, architecture, ambiance of cafes, shops, street vendors and delicious smell of patisseries always brings back fond memories.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): My favorite route is taking UTA’s University of Utah Football Game express bus. Over the years, I have become acquainted with other dedicated fans and built friendships where we look forward to the ride to the game as a chance to catch up. Of course, the fun environment on the bus is always filled with energy headed to the game and even better on the way back home after a big win!

Alisha Garrett joined the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in 2012 as a business and quality analyst for the authority’s largest bus division where she took a hands-on approach in process improvements that resulted in improved working conditions, enhanced customer experience and increased operational efficiency.

Garrett possesses a potent combination of technical skill, understanding of complex information and the ability to translate and apply that information into data-driven results. Her work with data processes and implementing lean initiatives has delivered real and measurable results to UTA, including improving operator wage accuracy by 16 percent, using an algorithm to analyze historical and projected budgeted miles and hours that improved budget metric accuracy by 83 percent and a series of continuous improvement events that saved UTA $3 million in operating expenditures.

Garrett was selected to be part of UTA’s inaugural LEAN Champion Team where she gained the trust of the authority’s top leaders who sought her expertise on executive-level analysis and leadership initiatives. Her work on the LEAN Champion Team led to broad UTA culture change and she was selected to lead the authority’s new Continuous Improvement Department before advancing to her current role as director of Culture and Talent Development.

She points to the development of the culture model, “UTA Way,” as one of her top accomplishments. It provided the foundation on which UTA’s culture is built and increased employee engagement, helped the authority enhance the customer experience, as well as improve the authority’s effectiveness and efficiency. Garrett has shared The UTA Way and other cultural best practices with King County Metro, L.A. Metro, New Jersey Transit and Regional Transportation District of Denver.

Garrett and her team planned and facilitated ENO Leadership, APTA Leadership and the NTI Academy hosted by UTA. Garrett is a Human Capital Institute Strategic HR Business Partner, TILT Maser Agility Practitioner, Arbinger Certified Facilitator, graduate of the Women’s Leadership Institute and a business mentor for an MBA Capstone Class.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I believe my success is the result of my upbringing. My mom and dad are both extremely hard workers. They taught me at a young age how to work hard and, no matter what I am doing - big or small - to make sure I take pride in my work. I believe their work ethic and encouragement are the reason I am where I am today.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

 I believe I have the best job. I am lucky enough to lead a team of devoted people who are focused on developing UTA’s employees. I feel like we make a difference in the lives of our employees and their careers. Who doesn’t enjoy knowing there is a true purpose to their work and that they make a difference? I love having the opportunity to help people define, discover and exceed their untapped potential. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing someone succeed.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

One of my proudest accomplishments is being one of the pioneers at UTA for our culture model, the “UTA Way” and helping pave the path for the culture journey we are currently on. I am proud of the shift we have made with our leaders in engaging and developing their team members. As a result of the culture work, UTA has seen an increase in employee engagement and significant strides have been made in continuously finding ways to improve our customer experience, our effectiveness and our efficiency. 

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

Never stop being curious, learning and innovating.

Why do you like being a part of the public transit industry?

Public transit is a critical component to a thriving economy. My favorite part of being in public transit is knowing that every day we are helping improve quality of life for our employees, our riders and our communities.