Q&A Nov 29, 2023

On the Move with Rail and Transit Infrastructure: A Q&A with Damian Carey

As Rail and Transit Market Solutions Lead for the Americas North, Damian collaborates with clients and his team to deliver critical rail and transit infrastructure

Damian Carey banner graphic

Damian Carey leads Jacobs’ focus on program delivery and market solutions for rail and transit clients and helps pursuit and delivery teams understand all the capabilities we have to offer clients, particularly in resilience, sustainable solutions and digital tools.

Expanding and renovating transit services and the assets they rely on requires bold ideas, the application of innovations and advances in both technology and delivery methods. We sat down with Damian to discuss how he relies on both the innovation of his team and collaboration with our clients to deliver critical rail and transit infrastructure.

Hi, Damian. Tell us a bit about your role and how you help solve our clients’ biggest challenges?

I lead our focus on program delivery and market solutions for rail and transit clients. Inherently, these clients are providing services that support sustainable options for riders and the movement of goods. Expanding or renewing those services, and the assets they rely on, requires bold ideas, application of innovations, and advances in both technology and delivery methods.

What’re you working on these days?

I change hats several times a day. I’m working to help pursuit and delivery teams understand all the capabilities we have to offer their clients, particularly in the areas of resilience, sustainable solutions, and digital tools. I’m overseeing delivery of our portfolio of tasks at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which involves a range of services from managing capital delivery of facilities and technical upgrades to strategic operational management support. And I’m closely involved in the pursuit of major program roles that will support key clients with the implementation of their most challenging programs.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

I love the variety of issues I get to deal with, and of course the gratification that comes from finding successful solutions. But I don’t do any of that alone. Most important to me is the teamwork element, interacting with the highly talented and committed colleagues on my team and throughout the company. Opportunities to get together in person, really delving into the subject at hand and working collaboratively to move the needle – those are the times that stick in the memory.

What sparked your interest in a rail/ transportation career?

I’m not sure that I picked a career in transportation so much as it picked me and sucked me in. I needed an industrial sponsor for my degree program. I applied to firms in several different sectors of engineering, but the best opportunity was with a rail vehicle manufacturer. They had a great training program through which I experienced all departments in the company, and at graduation I moved into their sister company delivering the systems side of design-build projects. I then came to fully appreciate the value that such transit projects bring to the communities they serve, as well as depth of challenges involved in bringing them to successful completion, and I was captured for life.

Tell us about your first project at Jacobs and its impact on the community.

I joined Jacobs in Denver, where we were supporting a major transit expansion program called RTD FasTracks. As well as expansion of the existing bus and light rail networks, we added four lines of commuter rail, a new mode delivered through the nation’s first rail sector public-private-partnership concession. The program was conceived to bring regional equity to the transit network, adding lines through all the municipalities in RTD's service area. With few new lines opening in a short period, there were lots of municipal celebrations. But more importantly, seeing those lines in the following weeks and months being used consistently by those communities demonstrated the lasting benefit to those citiziens, making their daily lives just a little bit easier.

You worked with WMATA on their HQ consolidation project. Tell us about that.

WMATA’s building consolidation program was a much-needed element of the agency’s reinvention. Their personnel were distributed around the region in more than 70 small office buildings, not counting those at maintenance facilities. The old HQ building was life expired and really showing its age. Supporting their consolidation into three new HQ buildings, one in each jurisdiction (Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland), and delivering those state-of-the-art buildings to LEED Platinum status enables WMATA to face the next generation in a more coordinated, cohesive organization, and in quality facilities their people deserve.

“Project delivery is very much a team sport. We apply lots of best practices and proven approaches to break down the work into manageable activities, but they must come back together because the project must be the sum of the whole to succeed.”

Damian Carey headshot

Damian Carey

Jacobs Rail and Transit Market Solutions Lead, Americas North

What are you most proud of so far in your career?

As with most reflections on my work, I think this will equally comprise of people and projects. I’ve worked with many great people, and I’m proud of those that I was able to influence in their careers and seeing how they’ve developed. Similarly, whenever I travel somewhere that I have worked and can ride a service that I helped deliver, it’s a great feeling to see that the project is now part of the established infrastructure.

How has collaboration played a role in the projects you’ve worked on throughout your career?

It’s the collaboration and integration efforts that truly deliver the value for the project. And when projects get complex, multi-disciplinary challenges require that we not only collaborate but that we trust each other to deliver individual activities in full coordination with everyone else. Not everyone on the team needs to understand all the details if you can trust that the interfaces are correct and that’s where the collaboration shows itself most effective.

What's something new you learned in the last week?

I learn new things every day. Some of it is more acquired knowledge that I can apply to my actions and decisions, and some of it is deepening understanding of myself and my team and how we perform in different circumstances. I just had a client interview which included some timed problem-solving challenges from which I learned how powerful alignment and collaboration can be in a high-pressure situation.

What advice would you give to young professionals? 

The best advice I can offer is to always say “yes” to new opportunities. Accepting new challenges and trying a range of roles and project settings will broaden your experiences, capabilities, and horizons. You will learn what genuinely interests you and what does not. Jacobs has such a wide variety of service offerings, work locations and clients; and provides opportunities for mobility between places and roles; so, there is no limit to the possibilities to grow and develop.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

At the end of the day, #OurJacobs is really about the people we have, the teams that we develop and the opportunities to share in providing solutions collaboratively for our clients. Nothing energizes me more than working together as a team and seeing the value we collectively create.

About the interviewee

Damian Carey headshot

Damian has over 35 years of professional experience leading public transportation project delivery, encompassing capital program strategic development, procurement and implementation, project management, engineering design and construction management, and rail vehicle and infrastructure engineering. For more than 20 years, he has been leading and developing personnel and project teams, with a focus on inclusivity and diversity, enabling and encouraging the training and growth of his colleagues, direct reports, and clients. He also serves as a Project Executive, with responsibilities for business strategy, proposal development, profitable service delivery and growth, and involvement in establishing rail/transit team coordination.

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