2022 40 Under 40: Lynn Feng

Aug. 23, 2022
Lynn Feng, Transportation Planning Manager, AECOM

One word to describe yourself: Resourceful 

Alma Mater: Peking University; University of Southern California 

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve watched Lord of the Rings Trilogy 20+ times (and, yes, the extended versions) 

Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): New York Grand Central Terminal. This grand and historical Beaux-Arts architecture is a living ode to NYC’s illustrious past and marvelous present. 

Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): Angel’s Flight. This spectacular historic funicular holds the world’s record for being the shortest rail route, and I was so excited when it reopened for service in 2017. It has made the last leg of my commute of climbing up Bunker Hill after getting off the train at L.A. Metro’s Pershing Square station so much easier! 

Lynn Feng is a planning manager at AECOM. Born and raised in Urumqi, China, Feng came to the U.S. to pursue her master's degree in planning at the University of Southern California (USC) after earning her bachelor's degree from Peking University in urban planning. She has been calling Los Angeles home ever since.  

As a believer in urban livability and sustainable development, she strives to leverage innovation in infrastructure and planning to connect people to opportunities and advance equity. She combines her experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to serve clients locally and globally on infrastructure projects, with a focus on urban and transportation planning. Feng is passionate about the transportation industry and proactive in expanding her involvement and knowledge. She has worked on numerous projects including connected and automated vehicles, transit and fleet electrification, micro-mobility, light rail, high-speed rail, bus rapid transit, monorail and other modes in a variety of contexts. 

Feng has worked with AECOM’s local and global teams for a wide range of clients from L.A. Metro and L.A. 2028 Olympics Committee to Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), as well as internationally for NEOM and Al Soudah, which are entirely new smart and connected cities in Saudi Arabia.     

Feng is an active member of the Women Transportation Seminar (WTS). She received a WTS scholarship while attending USC and has been the liaison for USC students to participate in WTS events. She is currently serving as the Awards Dinner Committee Co-chair and is devoted to supporting female transportation practitioners achieve career and life advancement, as well as to help WTS-LA Chapter grow and thrive. Additionally, she has been participating in mentorship programs organized by USC Sol Price School and by METRANS Transportation Centers for the past three years as a mentor to graduate students and emerging professionals in the transportation industry; she has received great feedback from her proteges.     

Feng has dedicated her entire career to the transportation industry. In seven years, she has risen from an intern at L.A. Metro to a planning manager at AECOM. She has continued to demonstrate proactive learning, an ability to tackle a range of technical tasks, enthusiasm and willingness to support new work and a talent for starting new conversations about transportation that connect equity and access to infrastructure planning decisions. She has also taken on important roles in growth strategies leadership as well as business development and project administration, further enhancing her well-rounded skillset.   

As part of AECOM’s response to the pandemic, Feng led the development of a global best practices report for transit agency response for SEPTA, as well as a transformational policy direction report for CMAP. Feng is also a key player in AECOM’s Transportation Electrification (TE) strategic initiative, recently authoring a white paper for service fleet electrification that has caught the interest of several potential clients. This important strategic TE initiative of AECOM has a much sturdier foundation because of Feng’s knack for aligning applied research to practical implementation issues.    

Feng is described by colleagues as an inspiration for her team and a pleasure to work with, combining a strong technical background with enthusiasm to support projects, positive in the face of sometimes daunting deadlines, and always available to jump in and help when necessary.  

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

It’s more like a series of fortunate coincidences rather than one specific experience, but looking back, I really thank WTS for leading me in a variety of ways to where I am today. I was very fortunate to receive a WTS scholarship in graduate school, which marked the beginning of my journey with WTS ever since. I started volunteering with WTS and acted as the liaison for USC student engagement. At one of the WTS breakfast programs, I had a great conversation with an amazing female transportation professional sitting next to me, who later became my mentor and gave me lot of encouragement and professional advice. Upon graduation, I was fortunate to land a job offer from the same company and started working with her in the same group. She was on the L.A. Chapter’s board at the time and encouraged me to get more involved with WTS, and through which I met so many other inspiring female transportation professionals that have become my mentors, supported me and advocated for me. I would not have been where I am today without all the great mentors I have. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?   

The people and the work. Nothing gives me more joy than exchanging ideas and collaborating with talented and passionate people from different backgrounds, and I’m proud to be working with so many inspiring colleagues from across geographies and disciplines on a daily basis. As a full service consulting firm, my company has a very wide spectrum of projects, from conventional planning projects to strategic plans for emerging technologies and smart mobility. The exposure I have been able to get on projects of vastly different scales and scopes really broadened my horizon and reinforced my passion and devotion to the transportation industry. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?   

Time management and work-life balance. Especially since COVID-19, the boundary between work and life has disappeared for me due to remote working – I found myself waking up and going directly to my computer to pick up the work I left unfinished late last night. I was on conference calls while making lunch and started having all meals in front of my monitor so that I could continue my work while eating. I consider myself a problem solver and I really enjoy seeing things getting done, however, this imbalance between work and life really burned me out without me even noticing it. After almost two and a half years, I finally understood that working longer hours is not the road to higher productivity, and the boundaries between professional and personal lives need to be clearly set and maintained to achieve success in both regards. 

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?   

Being nominated and selected for the Mass Transit 40 under 40 Class of 2022 has been the greatest honor and accomplishment for me. I appreciate the recognition from my company and from the industry on my work to date and am inspired to continue the dedication of my career to improving transit services for all. 

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

Be present, be ready, and be reliable. A career in consulting needs a mindset of customer service, which means listening with full attention, solving problems with creativity and authenticity, as well as thinking proactively to deliver not only a work product, but also a delightful experience for the client.