John Sedlak, manager of rail passenger research at TTI, has just finished his first six months with the Institute. Often at the half-year mark, an organization evaluates the employee to make sure “the fit is right.” Though TTI no longer has this formal assessment step, if the process were reversed, John says, he’d give TTI highest marks.
“TTI is the best transportation research organization in the country, with the finest professionals working for it,” he states unequivocally. “I’m extremely proud — and consider myself very fortunate — to be working here.”
John is leading TTI’s efforts to expand research with TxDOT in high-speed rail (HSR). He believes that high-speed rail should be fully explored as one of the options for the future mobility of Texas. After all, improved mobility means an improved quality of life for Texans. Right now he’s concentrating on assembling TTI’s HSR team and forging a partnership with TxDOT to improve HSR research opportunities.
“I’ve been involved with public transportation throughout my career, and that’s allowed me unique insight into the kind of decision making that can affect a city’s future for decades to come. I’ve been fortunate to have a career where I’ve studied mobility, operational, and program management issues from a variety of perspectives.”
Experience with that complexity will serve John well as he leads TTI’s foray into HSR research, which itself touches so many interdisciplinary and multimodal areas. And the broad network of colleagues he’s worked with across those areas have taught him how leveraging individual strengths across teams can often yield a whole greater than the sum of its parts. That’s why he values effective teamwork so highly, he says.
Quality of life outside the office is important to John too. “My wife Cathy and I love travelling to new destinations and exploring cities, countries and cultures. And I enjoy spending time with our grandchildren immensely.”
When you work on issues as focused on the future and big-picture oriented as John does, downtime and play are absolutely necessary to keeping things in perspective. Speaking of which, John has some very specific ways he likes to play.
“I try hard to be a better golfer,” he says, laughing a bit at the claim. “I’m an avid gardener and landscaper, and I’m what you might call a weather geek. I have a small weather station where I monitor temps, air pressure, humidity, wind speed and rainfall. I enjoy the complexity of our weather particularly here in Texas.”
Knowing how to tell which way the wind blows will no doubt serve John well in his new role as TTI’s HSR initiative leader.