Metro offers mentorship and career development opportunities

The new Aspiring Leaders Program (ALP), part of Metro’s Partnership to Achieve Comprehensive Equity (PACE) initiative, is designed to expand career development opportunities for staff who want to grow their careers within the agency.

While there are many training programs available across the County, most occur during the day and tend to focus on office or administrative work environments. Hourly operational staff in Metro often need to have their positions backfilled to participate which creates a financial disincentive to offer development programs to these employees.

ALP is different as it is available to all agency employees, on all shifts, and is designed with all types of workplaces in mind, not just office environments. After a successful pilot in Metro’s Light Rail Section, the first official round of ALP was launched in December 2015, which included Vehicle Maintenance mentors paired with Power and Facilities mentees who are now preparing to celebrate their completion of the program.

The King County Metro ALPS Program group: Back row: Jeff Sattler, Chris Wilkinson, Joe Luxem, Troy Jarger, Derrick Hunter, Michael Marks, Stan Lillquist. Front row: Chris Parrot, Ron MacMillan, Maggie Halter, Deb Stenoien, Luisa Quiambao, Rich Acosta, Dennis Clemens, Joe Trecker. Not pictured: Nick Nash and Ed Mays.

The King County Metro ALPS Program group: Back row: Jeff Sattler, Chris Wilkinson, Joe Luxem, Troy Jarger, Derrick Hunter, Michael Marks, Stan Lillquist. Front row: Chris Parrot, Ron MacMillan, Maggie Halter, Deb Stenoien, Luisa Quiambao, Rich Acosta, Dennis Clemens, Joe Trecker. Not pictured: Nick Nash and Ed Mays.

Program lead, Shanette Landes, believes there is value in pairing mentors and mentees from different Sections.

“The opportunity to learn from leaders in another Section is extremely valuable,” she said. “It challenges us to be more open-minded, build relationships across the agency, and experience different styles of leadership.”

ALP includes a robust self-study component as well as a mentorship with a Metro leader. The self-study component explores many aspects of modern leadership and supervision with a strong emphasis on creating a welcoming, supportive, culturally-competent and highly engaged workplace.

PACE Mentor, John Alley, on the left and Mentee, Zhixin (Jason) Huang, on the right

PACE Mentor, John Alley, on the left and Mentee, Zhixin (Jason) Huang, on the right.

The mentorship involves the mentor and mentee meeting periodically to engage in structured conversations focused on the self-study content both parties are reading. Research shows that mentoring is one of the most powerful tools for advancing diverse individuals up the leadership talent pipeline, which is a key priority in Metro.

ALP participants have shared very positive feedback about their experience and the potential to support career development and staff engagement.

“As a current Lead at South Facilities the ALP program has really helped in my day to day interactions with my crew. Each chapter has something ‘new’ to learn and ideas to explore,” said Troy Jaegr, a Power and Facilities mentee. “At the weekly mentoring meetings, you get ‘real-life’ leadership experience to better understand each chapter which I believe is the most important part of the program.”

“We can all read and learn from a book but when you listen and learn from an experienced Metro Transit Leader(s) that is the key to this excellent program!”

Based on the results, the next step is to gain support to scale-up ALP for full deployment across Metro. However, Shanette knows there will be a few hurdles to overcome.

Shanette Landees1

Program lead, Shanette Landes, believes there is value in pairing mentors and mentees from different Sections.

“The greatest challenge will be encouraging enough formal leaders to sign up to be mentors. We will need many more mentors than mentees to make this program successful – otherwise we will be limited in how many mentees can participate.”

“I believe that millennials like myself have a lot of respect for those who have gone before us. We have a strong desire to develop and learn from them,” she said. “The great thing about this program is the opportunity to learn from leaders who have been in the ‘trenches’ and can guide us through their own experiences.”

For more information about the Aspiring Leaders Program, please contact Shanette Landes at shanette.landes@kingcounty.gov.