Top 40 Under 40 2017: Nicole M. McGann

Sept. 15, 2017
Nicole M. McGann, Manager, Safety Reporting & Risk Reduction, Metra
  • One word to describe yourself: Perseverance
  • Alma Mater: Dominican University
  • Favorite book: “Nefertiti: A Novel" by Michelle Moran and "FDR" by Jean Edward Smith
  • Favorite TV show: "NCIS"
  • Favorite movie: "Pitch Perfect" and "Wonder Woman"
  • Favorite hobby(ies): Spending time with her two children (watching movies, swimming, and reading).
  • Fun fact: While traveling in London as a child, she ran onto a train and the doors closed before her parents could get on with her. Luckily, a group of teenagers and the conductor kept her calm/safe and she was able to reunite with her parents at the next station stop.
  • What is your favorite transit system (outside of the one you work for or have worked for!) and why?: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, it was extremely convenient and very reliable when she used it. 

Over the past several years, Metra’s Nicole McGann has steadily risen through the ranks within Metra and the Safety & Environmental Compliance Department, earning the respect of Metra’s senior leadership, her peers, union representatives and those outside the agency for her professionalism, advocacy of industry best practices and her focus on building positive relationships between stakeholders inside and outside of Metra. Most recently, McGann graduated from the American Public Transportation Association Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). She was selected from over 70 applicants from transit agencies around the country to participate in a professional development program for those who are relatively new to transit and are looking to jump start their career within their organization and the industry. The program fosters a diverse perspective on the issues at hand such as workforce development and communication in a multi-generational era. ELP has provided Nicole the opportunity to meet with industry leaders and mentors both nationally and locally to develop her talents professionally, allowing her to continue making a positive impact on the safety culture at Metra. McGann has taken a lead role and has been instrumental in the implementation and success of Metra’s “Confidential Close Call Reporting System” (C3RS) making Metra the first commuter rail agency in the Nation to include all 17 of its operating crafts and implement C3RS system-wide.

Representatives of Metra’s senior leadership, management and transportation unions joined officials from the Federal Railroad Administration for a signing ceremony to launch Metra’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System, which is designed to proactively address safety issues and create a more positive safety culture. McGann not only coordinated the affair and played a key role in getting the system off the ground, but she also worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth roll-out which included the coordination and scheduling of blitzes at more than 23 different crew starting points, yards and downtown passenger terminals to launch the program. McGann helped create and brand C³RS collateral materials and promotional items so that they stood out and would be recognized by Metra workers throughout the system. She presented the materials to Metra’s senior management, directors and front-line supervisors to educate everyone on the parameters and structure of the program and trained hand-picked ambassadors selected from all front-line craft employees, to be boots-on-the-ground champions and educate their fellow peers of the program. As a result of her hard work and dedication to ensure the success of the C³RS program, McGann received written recognition in a letter to Metra’s chief executive officer and senior management from FRA Associate Administrator of Railroad Safety Robert Lauby, FRA Staff Director for Technical Train Standards Robert Castiglione and General Chairmen from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). McGann has also collaborated with senior management and union representatives to redesign Metra’s Safety and Interactive Management (SIM) Committees. The SIM committees have been restructured to ensure all safety issues are handled appropriately and efficiently.

In addition to working with the SIM committees, McGann collaborated with a small group of labor and management representatives to create “The Partnership,” a newsletter designed for locomotive engineers to provide safety information, mechanical trouble shooting advice to minimize delays, and share lessons-learned about good employee safety habits. The group devotes a full day in the field distributing the newsletter and discussing safety concerns. 

"I've been in safety for about 6 and a half years now and I love that what we do is to help make our employees and passengers safer. Keeping passengers going home the way that they came to us is our number one goal, you want everyone to go home to their families the way that they came in the morning. I really enjoy being a part of that mission and I think that some of the newer programs that we started, such as our confidential closed call reporting system, it's a great way for our employees to really be engaged in our safety culture in reporting their near misses. Also the groups that I work with to come up with the corrective action are really dedicated in trying to mitigate the services that we do have out there."

"I started at Metra in the HR department as an intern and I came after I graduated they accepted me back to the department as a college graduate entry level position. It was very interesting learning about the company through the HR lens between all the different departments that were out there. I really started looking at operations in terms of interacting with people out in the field on a consistent basis and a safety associate job opened up and it looked like it would be pretty interesting and give me the opportunity to get my foot in the door for operations so I took it. I've really loved it ever since. I enjoy the interaction with the employees and getting out in the field to see how our operations work."

"Helping people get where they need to go. Some people don't have the luxury to have their own car and we're that mode of transportation to their work, which could be their livelihood, and if we're not around they can't get there... I think just knowing that we do that for them and knowing that we make it as safe as possible for them, it really makes me happy. I'm also second generation transportation, my father was in transportation with the Chicago Transit Authority so I guess maybe it runs in the blood."

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April 20, 2012