Employee Spotlight on Sabeena Haridas
Sabeena Haridas works as one of Genfare’s Program Managers and has been with the company for nearly two decades. She has an amazing background—growing up in India, traveling across the world to go to college, as well as living in Botswana. Read more about Sabeena, what inspires her, and how her role here positively impacts the client experience.
How long have you been in the transit industry?
How did you get your start here at Genfare?
I came onboard as a consultant. At that point, Genfare was doing the development of the TVM and the PEM. I was part of the team managing the software development group.
I then moved to working on contracts with Andrew Chan, Director of Business Development, and I’m still in a Program Management role here.
What gets you out of bed every morning?
It’s the thought of coming in and helping customers. Our department’s role is to stay with an order right from acceptance of the PO to completion. There’s a great feeling of satisfaction when you successfully complete an order from start to finish.
Every account is a unique experience. You work with small, big and medium size agencies, and they each have their own inner workings and objectives. My role gives me a lot of exposure to different people, organizations and cities and it’s very exciting. That’s the interesting part of the job—it’s never boring. Something is always happening and you have something to look forward to when you come in every day.
What would you say inspires you?
My family – first and foremost. This job gives me the opportunity to support that. I have a lot of flexibility at work which provides me with a good work/home balance. The ability to keep things going well at both ends provides the satisfaction that keeps me going from one project to another.
What are some of the more significant changes you’ve seen here at Genfare since you started?
I’ve been here for nearly two decades, and have seen and worked with different management policies. Just the way things have run here have changed. We’ve always been a small company with around 150-200 people and we’ve always been a pretty close knit team. We’ve got new people and ideas coming in, and we’ve seen the company change focus from hardware to software with a general progression towards new innovations keeping in line with industry trends. All these changes have changed the look and feel of the company and keeps me motivated and enthusiastic about working here.
What are some of the more significant changes you’ve seen with public transit as a whole since you started?
Public transit as a whole has embraced new technology and payment systems with open arms. Before, you would just collect cash fares and that was essentially it. But now with different types of media and modes of payment coming into play and threats to data security, the transit industry itself is facing new challenges. The industry is trying to keep abreast of the latest trends in hardware and software which are evolving at a breakneck pace. A no frills industry has suddenly woken up to the potentials that have been exposed by new breakthroughs and is scrambling to use them. This has placed Genfare in a great position to help these agencies meet their goals with our new products.
What are some of your problem-solving techniques?
I have found that having personal relationships with my team members and all the people that I work with helps me a lot. I’ve always been a nuts and bolts type of person and I like to get into the nitty gritty of things and know what the resolutions are and why they happened. I have an engineering and operations background which helps me with my day to day work.
When working with a customer, I’ve found that building good personal relationships helps. I have never had a project where everything fell into place and worked perfectly. There are always ups and downs and you work your way through the downs until everything is completed satisfactorily.
You have lived internationally, how has that shaped you and your communication style? And where did you used to live?
I’m from India. I came to the USA to study, and then after that I lived for about 10 years in Southern Africa in a country called Botswana before returning to the United States.
Coming here as a student was just wonderful. It was a very different classroom experience because we study differently in India. Travelling here, going to grad school, meeting new people… I think these were some of the biggest things that have had an impact on me. It has definitely helped shape and develop my communication skills. Suddenly meeting people from fifty different countries and working alongside them opened windows to new experiences. That certainly helped me when I went to live in Southern Africa. I have found that people are very friendly everywhere and don’t really care where you come from or whether you speak English well or not. When you reciprocate in the same manner, it just makes for a very, very nice experience.
Travelling has definitely helped with my communication at work. When I work with people, I try to give them the respect that they need and come with an open mind. My mantra is ‘Never get angry, be level-headed’, and people almost always respond in the same manner.
When you studied over here, were you in this area?
I was studying in Iowa City. Go Hawkeyes! I come from Mumbai, which is one of the biggest cities in India with millions of people. Coming to Iowa was a sensory shock because I’m used to so many people around me. Some of my friends came to pick me up from the airport and we were driving to school and the first things I asked them was why there was no one on the roads and there were no people walking around. That was my first impression of the US —not seeing people.
Chicago has been home for the past 20 years and I love the vibrant city and people and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else in the US.
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