Five questions with Chris O’Claire, Division Director for Mobility, King County Metro 

Why did you start in your role with King County?

I started at King County 15 years ago as an intern in the Service Development. I joined Metro because I was passionate about making a positive impact on the environment. And, I was immediately drawn to public transportation as a way to reduce carbon emissions by getting people out of their cars. But what keeps me here is the people – the employees that are committed to providing the best public transportation and the customers.

For me, the ability to connect customers to their families, workplaces, medical facilities and communities via the various public transportation opportunities we offer is the icing on the cake.

What do you do in your role?

As the Division Director for Mobility, I oversee the planning and preparation for all services, including the development of market innovations for our customers and employers, the connection of our customers on a daily basis to the system, and the delivery of all non-fixed route services. I try to stay at a strategic level, guiding leaders in the mobility division to make decisions, assess risks and allocate resources.

Why did you choose this field as your career?

Somehow the career chose me. I am an environmental economist by training, with a real desire for serving people. Public service is a real passion of mine, as I aspire on a daily basis to improve our communities.

What is the biggest challenge of your job?

Managing my time is the biggest one. As a Division Director, I feel pulled in many different directions by colleagues, stakeholders, customers, elected officials, etc. I try to focus on assessing risks rather than managing details. What I love most is connecting with people – from hearing about what inspires employees professionally or personally to listening to customers on how they thrive or struggle with our services. I love finding pockets of time to connect with people.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The people! Metro employees inspire me to come to work every day. The commitment we share as a team to deliver the best services to our customers is a big draw. Additionally, I come to work to be challenged on a daily basis. More recently, I’ve been trying to live by our four Pro-Equity Compacts and I am focused on being “comfortable with discomfort.” I am challenging myself to listen deeply to others and think openly around how to lead with a new mindset around delivering services where needs are greatest.