She Wears Steel-Toed Boots:
BETH CARUSO, AREMA
Interview: Beth Caruso
Executive Director/CEO of American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association
Question: What is your current position/title? How long have you worked for the railroad?
Answer: I have been the Executive Director/CEO of AREMA since 2015 and have worked at
AREMA since 1999.
Question: Briefly describe your day-to-day duties.
Answer: I have the pleasure of working with members and supporters of AREMA on a daily
basis. I also have the pleasure of working with a dynamic staff team that puts forth their best efforts to support our Association, Leaders, Members and Supporters. Our goal is to serve our members and supporters!
Question: What led you to choose a career in railroading?
Answer: I answered an ad in the newspaper for an administrative assistant position at an Association. It was the best decision
that I ever made! From day one, I enjoyed my work here at AREMA. I not only learned about Associations, but the railroad industry was an unknown to me in 1999. Since that time, an entire world has opened, and I love being a part of it! It is a very interesting industry and the best thing I like is that everyone loves their jobs and the industry. Once a railroader…always a railroader. It is nice to see the drive and fulfillment that people have in their day to day activities. I am not sure how many other industry’s have people that retire and even after that date, people continue to stay active. Those individuals may work part-time on the side or may fully retire and stay active within AREMA. That shows how much railroaders love their work and how much they enjoy their colleagues and friends. It is a close-knit community and I like the family atmosphere and connections.
Question: What do you love most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Answer: The best part of my job is working with our leaders, members and supporters. I am very thankful for the relationships
that I have built and fostered over the years. I am also very thankful for the support that AREMA receives.
I am most proud of almost celebrating 20 years here at this great Association. I will reach this milestone next year and I am very proud of that. Staying this long at one organization is unheard of…especially in the Association world. I am also very proud of my staff team. We have others that will be here nearly 20 years and I think that says a lot about AREMA and those that we serve.
Question: What personal characteristics and/or people have contributed most to your success and how?
Answer: Personal characteristics would be my love for people and strong work ethics.
I truly love meeting people and hearing their stories. My parents contributed mostly to my success by instilling strong work ethics in me. They also made me believe I could accomplish anything. Thank God for them…because of their support, I can pass the same work ethics, love and support to my daughters and help them believe they can accomplish anything. I love them for that and am very appreciative! My husband of 24 years has also been a contributor of my success. He has always been very supportive of my career and has always stood by me.
In addition, I have had very strong support from our leadership and members during my career here at AREMA and that is truly how I have been successful. There have been many mentors and when you have strong people behind you and strong work ethics…anything is possible.
Question: With national attention so focused on the treatment of women in the workplace, have you faced challenges and
obstacles as a woman working in a predominantly male industry? If so, how did you respond to them?
Answer: I have to say, that I have never felt uncomfortable or faced challenges/obstacles working and relating in this
predominantly male industry. I believe that the individuals that comprise our industry have strong family values and as a young person starting out in my 20’s, at that time, most people considered me like their daughter. If anything, they would have been the one’s going after someone that may have challenged or did not treat me fairly.
Starting out in my 20’s, I remember not seeing many women in the industry, but over the year’s it has definitely become more diverse. I know that diversity is in the thoughts of our leader’s minds and it is something that is important to them as we look at ways to bring more diverse individuals to our industry.
Question: Women have come a long way since the days of the telegrapher and the Harvey Girl. What are your hopes for
women in the future of railroading? Where do you see the greatest opportunities?
Answer: The hope and opportunities for women that I see, are more women in leadership roles. I have heard men say that
women bring a unique perspective to certain situations and that is a value in any role. I believe that the railroad industry was already thinking about women advancing to leadership roles way before the national attention came to light recently.
Question: What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in railroading?
Answer: Go for it!!! There are so many opportunities and many mentors along the way to assist with this venture. As with most
industries, there are changes and challenges ahead for women. I believe the railroad industry is adapting to women’s needs/strengths and the industry is standing firmly behind them. This is a momentous time for women to show what they can do and to be strong. I have two daughters and when I see young women in the industry, I think of them. I think there are MANY opportunities and if you get your education and above all….have work ethics and respect for others, you will go a long way. Character means more than anything and that is important in any industry.
Question: Please feel free to share any other stories or information you’d like us to know about your experience as a woman
Answer: When I was promoted to Executive Director/CEO, I was so thankful for the outreach from both men and women. They
were very proud and excited that AREMA had hired a woman for the Executive Director/CEO position. I never had any idea that I would get such responses and it made me smile. I felt very supported and thankful from the start. Since my promotion, I am very thankful for those that say that I am doing a great job. I am also very thankful for my staff team. Having a great group of individuals to work with and the support from our leadership is inspiring. I love being a part of this wonderful railroad industry!