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Sarah Rios is a Senior Director who has been with PMA for 4 years. Sarah got her start in the industry as a regional planner on a transit study to improve local and express buses in New York. That job launched her career in the transportation industry. She began working for the New York State Department of Transportation, assembling transportation and capital plans. She was responsible for getting transit and highway projects approved and ready for construction by ensuring that cost, scope, and schedule were accurate and funding was available. From there, she oversaw the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) federal program. She had a hand in implementing several New York metropolitan area projects, including the MTA’s mega projects. From there, Sarah had the opportunity to work with Executive Director Bruce Stephan and Managing Director Rick Johnson, launching our Federal Transit Administration program. Currently, Sarah works on several key transit projects in California.

In discussing the early days of her career, Sarah recalls that it was a time when career development was mainly geared to on-the-job training and that there were very few programs for women. As a result, Sarah became a long-term member of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), which has helped provide encouragement and education throughout the years. Sarah also served as a mentor for WTS for five years.

Other sources of mentorship included helpful bosses and colleagues, who provided guidance and insight. Sarah believes that forming these types of professional bonds is a gift that provides work environment stability, happiness, and fulfillment. She continues to reach out to colleagues regularly for insight on work tasks and to continue growing and learning.

When reflecting on advice or insight she would offer to women at the beginning of their careers in the construction industry, Sarah suggests an interview tip: ask detailed questions about the management structure, work environment, and job responsibilities during the interview, since these all have a direct impact on one’s career growth and happiness.

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