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Cambridge Systematics (CS) has benefited from a long history of women transportation professionals leading, innovating, and advancing our mission to improve transportation for the next generation. The Women’s History Month Leadership Spotlight Series showcases some CSers who are helping to chart our course. In the first installment of the series, we’re sitting down with Laura O’Neill, Product Manager within our Software team, to reflect on her career as a woman in transportation and how she envisions the future. Laura has over eight years of expertise in client support, software quality assurance and control, product management, and troubleshooting resolutions.

“Laura has been such an asset to CS,” says Brad Wright, President and CEO. “She has a unique ability to connect with our clients, understand their challenges, and craft technology solutions to meet their needs. She exemplifies our strategic priority to build quality client relationships, and I’m excited to see where the future of asset management software goes with Laura’s leadership.”

When you think about the trajectory of your career, is there a moment that stands out as a challenge you overcame?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

My background is a little different from many of the folks at CS in that I came from the private sector, working in software, not from transit or planning. As such, one of the most challenging times in my career was transitioning to work in the public sector and ensuring that my skills developed in the private sector met the needs of our current clients. However, it was a challenge that I was actively pursuing professionally as I wanted to be able to work with clients who are improving the community at large.

What about a moment you are particularly proud of?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

Last year, my team and I launched a new asset management software product, which was the first time our asset management team had developed a new product in many years. It was built to better align with the work that our clients were doing and was developed as a collaborative effort between our clients and our internal teams. It is really a showcase of the OneCS mindset, a belief that our work is stronger and better when we acknowledge what everyone can bring to the table. We went live last February with the first module of that software, called Asset Inventory. We are currently developing some enhancements to that initial module while simultaneously laying down the foundation for the additional modules. We are continuing to expand upon the product and refine the roadmap, moving to align with the shifting market and what our clients are telling us they need.

Can you talk about any women or woman in particular who has had significant influence on your life or career, personal or professional?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

There are so many women who have touched my career from my personal life and professional life, starting with our CGO, Sarah Anderson, with whom I worked in Software at the start of my CS tenure. I've had women mentors at previous organizations who have all significantly impacted my career. One person in particular who has had the biggest influence is my daughter—I'm setting the example for her that, as a woman in the workforce, you don't have to pick between your professional or your personal goals. They really can align nicely together. All these women have, in one way or another, shaped my professional growth.

What advice do you have for a younger professional woman starting out in this field?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

It all boils down to asking questions often. There's a stigma that comes with asking questions, and I think we need to change that narrative. I think it's important to ask questions, question the status quo, and seek out mentors along the way.

CS talks a lot about the importance of teamwork. Can you talk about your experience leading a team and how it's impacted your perspective on the work?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

I'm very fortunate in that my immediate delivery team is truly inspirational. We're a very lean team, but we're all truly experts in our own fields, and we've learned to collaborate well over the years. We show each other an immense amount of respect for the expertise that we all bring. We have very open communication and dialogue, and we all are creative in our approaches, recognizing that there's not just one way to succeed. At CS, we're not just selling widgets. We're really selling solutions. That requires a lot of creativity and thinking outside of the box, and my team is great about being able to communicate different pathways to help our clients find that success.

When you think about the future of the practice, near term and down the road, what are some client challenges you are excited to help solve?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

Right now, one of the biggest things we're looking at is the ever-changing landscape of transit. We’re focused on helping clients future-proof, emerging technologies, and how we can bring those solutions forward to them. They're transit experts, and we're technology experts. So, we are trying to get ahead of the game by seeing where the asset management needs are now and how we can help address the ones that we haven't even thought of yet. Trying to get ahead of future solutions is something CS is very well-positioned to tackle right now.

What do you think is important for your clients to succeed now and in the future, and how is CS positioned to help?

Laura O'Neill's headshot

One of the things that my product is working on is meeting clients where they are at, right now. That's a major impetus behind why we built Asset Cloud in the first place—it's essentially a modularized approach to asset management that allows us to grow with our clients' needs. We're building the tools that will allow them to seamlessly be able to adopt software and solutions at each phase of their growth. CS is really well positioned to help because we're already having those forward-thinking conversations and helping clients see how our solutions can seamlessly align with their long-term roadmaps.

Thanks for chatting with us, Laura!

Continue the Conversation

Laura O'Neill headshot

Laura O'Neill

Product Manager