Southern Pacific Railroad History Center



I was the first, only..and last Manager of Marketing Research. Hired in Jan ’78 and had
with 18 in my group including two young female Stanford MBAs. Only one person worked at SP
(or other railroad) prior. He was a negative person and it was clear he was shoved
over into marketing and trickled down to my department. I did hire someone from Norfolk Southern and
another from MIT with an academic freight transportation background. But that was it.

There was no doubt friction existed from the get go. Much had to do with terminology.
We couldn’t talk ‘railroad’. On the other hand most SPers had no idea about marketing and
the imminent tidal wave of deregulation. We all bought into the challenge of moving
SP from a railroad to an integrated (freight) transportation and communications company.
As it turned out, easier said than done.

There were several social events (usually at Seven Hills) with other groups. Remember the one
with Pricing. Awkward as could be. A lot of cynicism from SPers. No laughter, people stayed in
their groups.

It seemed just when I completed my hires in mid-79 that I was asked to lay people off. A few
moved to other groups including the one who lodged a formal complaint to the EEOC against me.
Gender discrimination. Interestingly I promoted another woman over her. Funny. She felt entitled due
to age/experience. It was an action packed 1 1/2 years. I left before I was laid off.
And given the narrow time period of the Marketing Department it’s not clear there were many
actual accomplishments. But then again I was in a ‘staff’ department.

The people in Marketing were dedicated, intelligent and optimistic that they had an opportunity
to truly move SP to a higher more sustainable level. Everyone worked very hard.
Admittedly I never learned the difference between a spike and a spike maul. Still don’t and didn’t care.
Therein was the difference between two cultures.

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