Daria van Engelen is Genfare’s Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). She is a seasoned transit professional with a proven reputation for developing business, achieving growth, and driving performance. Read more about Daria’s background and what the newly created role of CRO brings to Genfare.
How long have you been in the transit industry?
My first job in transit was in 2004, working in rail operations in London. Since then, I’ve worked in a multitude of roles within surface transportation and mobility – from transportation consulting to intelligent transportation systems (ITS) operations, maintenance and technology. When I returned to the US in 2009 as a Business Development Director for Serco Inc., I worked predominantly in professional services.
I then went to North Highland for a short stint in management consulting for transportation administrative consulting including procurement strategy, organizational design and transportation asset management. While interesting, I missed being closer to the front lines of transit, so I moved on to Cubic as the Business Development Director for the US Central region and Canada East and Central regions. After a few years there, I felt more than ready to take a leadership position here at Genfare.
What do you enjoy most about working in transit?
I enjoy solutioning problems with agencies since I’ve worked in an array of functions within transit. Mostly though, I enjoy seeing transit systems progress – whether that’s through technological upgrades, service improvements or customer experience. I am a huge advocate of public transportation in general and anything that promotes the use of transit is music to my ears.
Personally, I especially enjoy building relationships with customers. I find this customer group to be very passionate about their profession, considerate for large segments of people that often get sidelined in society and are generally mission-driven and outcome focused. I like to think people who work in transit believe in improving the way society functions even at a micro level, and participating in that belief gets me up every morning.
What drew you to working at Genfare?
I think when you work for any large corporation, particularly in middle management, you discover how hard it can be to enact change. What attracted me most to Genfare was the ability to actually affect change within a smaller group of people. We can actually take heed of best practices and continuous improvement to grow the company. That’s something that excites me.
The CRO role is new to Genfare. Can you speak more on what a CRO does and what you would like to accomplish?
A CRO is responsible for all revenue generated at a company. They help drive and improve revenue for the bottom line. At Genfare, that essentially comes down to selling and marketing our products and making smart commercial decisions for the long-term success of our company.
I’m looking to accomplish more than just hitting sales targets. My goal is to create solutions that are good for our agency partners and good for society in terms of the rider experience. I want us to help better society and transit operations as a whole.
For the first time, Genfare’s sales and marketing groups are aligned under one leader. Why is it important to bring those teams together? What do they collectively offer to the business?
Sales and marketing need to be aligned so we can maximize the value of what we’re trying to sell. In order for us to sell anything, we need to be able to drive the message, state the value, and influence the customer. Sales and marketing needs to be completely in step on that.
Collectively, our sales and marketing teams have been in this for a long time. They’re able to bring greater value to our customers because they’ve had years of experience putting our products out there, receiving feedback, and in turn creating roadmaps that are more useful to our customers.
You have lived internationally. Has that influenced your approach to North America’s transit industry?
Absolutely. My career started in London. Transport for London (TFL)/ Docklands Light Railway are a very different type of organization than most North American agencies. They’re iconic. The TFL map is recognizable on t-shirts and mugs owned by people throughout the world. Its brand is still hip, and has much more influence on general society than public transit does here. Part of that comes from how the organization runs. It’s performance-based, and ran by people that use the service. Everyone from your CEO on down uses it. Because of that, high quality, performance, and reliability are demanded. It’s taught me what good looks like and what good can look like in transit. It’s had a huge influence on me and certainly resulted in a customer-first approach.
What is your perspective on the industry and its future? Do you see any long-term ramifications due to COVID-19?
Yes, I think our future will forever be different. We will never be able to go back to what we considered normal in transit. But that’s okay – we will have to be innovative and patient to develop new solutions for the long-term effects of COVID-19. The immediate move for agencies is to transition to contactless payment technology for their revenue collections.
The long-term strategic vision, however, is going to require real infrastructure change. Buses and trains may need to be redesigned to allow for more distancing. Passengers may not even come back in the numbers we expect – personally, I think we’ll see a huge increase in traffic congestion because those who have cars will opt to use them. Will agencies be resilient enough to follow through on the changes? Can they adapt to how this impacts their operations? That is going to be key. This type of event could be the catalyst for the paradigm shift we were starting to see pre-COVID towards greater mobility options in an automated world.
But for now, we need to provide good recommendations to our riders on the long-term future and the safety of returning to public transit.
Genfare is committed to helping your agency adapt to the needs of the future. Contact a rep today to talk strategy and learn more about what Genfare can offer.