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Alumni Spotlight: Maquiling Parkerson, UP Railroad

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Denver Transportation Institute

Feature  •
Alumni   •

Name: Maquiling Parkerson
Cohort: 18
Graduation Year: 2021
Current Position: Vice President Labor Relations & Sustainability, UP Railroad

Maquiling Parkerson

Maquiling Parkerson, who goes by Maqui, had to deal with some extraordinary conditions while she was enrolled at the TSC Institute. In addition to changing employers mid-program, she graduated during the pandemic. But that has not held her back post graduation. Just this month, she was promoted to Vice President – Labor Relations & Sustainability. She credits her leadership coursework, led by long time faculty member RJ Graham, with providing her with skills to navigate and craft her own path at Union Pacific.

After starting out in labor relations with some minor sustainability work, Maqui’s position has evolved into a truly comprehensive role. She works directly with senior leadership to implement the company’s sustainability strategy. A shortened list of this work includes:

  • Chairing the rail industry’s Decarbonization Working Group through the AAR
  • Developing the company climate action plan, including public targets for the use of renewable biofuels and purchase of the “world’s largest carrier-owned fleet of battery electric locomotives”
  • Serving as executive sponsor of a UP-created business resource group called Planet Tracks, focused on sustainable initiatives and innovation across the railroad

At the same time, Maqui is leading the UP’s national bargaining effort with labor organizations. In the rail industry, labor engages with multi-employer bargaining. She points to the effort the company is making to consider the changing workforce and how jobs are structured so that they continue to be attractive.

Maqui notes that in all this work she draws on her academic experience. She says, “The material taught by Jack Buffington is especially relevant to the work that I do in my sustainability role. Design thinking and collaboration with members in our value chain are essential to our efforts to address climate change.  When I was in his classes, I didn’t fully appreciate how relevant the material was to the work I’d end up doing for Union Pacific and the industry.”
Maqui’s cohort became especially close, despite the challenges of the pandemic and its limits on personal interaction. They stay in touch and have had opportunities to keep up with each other. As a testament to the strength of the cohort’s bonds, she provided the photo below – a selfie of Keith Crenshaw and her taken when business brought him to Omaha last November.
Personally, Maqui and her husband are celebrating their daughter’s high school graduation and preparing to become empty-nesters.

Maqui and Keith

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