One of the most fundamental core values of the American dream is upward mobility — that is, the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder. However, roadblocks can often hinder even the most ambitious employees from progressing. Take Christopher Love, for example. Love started out at Palm Tran as a bus driver, and while he enjoyed his job, he wanted to utilize his background in vehicle mechanics. When Palm Tran’s mechanic technician trainee position opened up, Love jumped at the opportunity to apply, but he was rejected on two separate occasions. Love knew he needed guidance to achieve his career goals, but did not know where to turn. Palm Tran’s Upward Mobility Program provided him with the tools he needed to succeed.
Palm Tran Organizational Development Manager Liliane Finke, Ed.D, oversees the Upward Mobility Program, which guides employees in preparing for their next career moves.
“This is a unique program in the transit industry, and it exemplifies how Palm Tran as an employer invests in every employee,” she says.
Finke has a doctorate in education with a concentration in psychology. Her educational background and expertise provided the perfect foundation for the Upward Mobility Program, now entering its second year.
“The Upward Mobility Program allows us to develop our employees’ skills and enables them to achieve career advancement,” Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes says. “The program is an empowering opportunity for Palm Tran employees. It is a way of letting them know we value them, care about them and want them to grow in our company.”
Love said the Upward Mobility Program helped him understand what he should focus on to achieve his career goals. Fink was able to assess his needs along with the needs of Palm Tran and identify areas for improvement.
“There were certifications I needed to get that I did not know I needed. I learned more about what it took to be a more qualified candidate,” Love says.
Furthermore, the process helped Love identify his strengths and weaknesses. Through a series of confidential 30-minute sessions, Love learned the best way to showcase his previous experience as a mechanic at his trucking company. The sessions consisted of coaching in all areas of development.
“This is a unique program in the transit industry.”
“We understand the importance of recognizing and utilizing ‘soft skills,’ building a team or going back to school to earn formal education credentials,” Finke says.
Finke explains that preparing for an interview is not just about attire or following up. It is about comparing an individual’s skills and qualifications to the job requirements. The application is a major component of that process.
“The application itself is the first step,” Finke says. “How it is filled out is often one of the keys to success.”
The third time Love applied for the mechanic trainee position, he was successful.
“It made all the difference,” Love says. “There were too many things I was not emphasizing. I learned how to articulate more in my interviews.”
“The Organizational Development program made a huge difference for Christopher in the third interview,” says Jon Kavaliunas, who was on the evaluation panel. “He really upped his game and presented himself as a well-qualified candidate. The difference was night and day.”
Since becoming a maintenance trainee, Love has already been promoted to maintenance technician, a feat he also attributes to the Upward Mobility Program. In the two years of the program starting, six Palm Tran employees have succeeded in receiving promotions to new positions.
“Palm Tran’s Upward Mobility Program best exemplifies our commitment and continual efforts to develop and promote an internal pool of outstanding human capital,” Senior Manager of Human Resources Cathy Lewis, who coordinates the program, says.
“Christopher’s story is about growth within Palm Tran,” adds Forbes. “The Upward Mobility Program reflects a culture where we care about our employees and invest in them to better serve Palm Tran.”