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Women In Mobility Spotlight: Anne O’Neil

Posted: March 9, 2023

When you see a need in industry for someone with your skill set, fill it.

That’s what Anne O’Neil did.

As the founding Chief Systems Engineer for New York City Transit (NYCT), O’Neil flexed her skills developing systems engineering discipline expertise, and modifying business processes as she established and integrated Systems Engineering (SE) capability at the agency.

As a leader within NYCT, O’Neil explored her own potential, and armed with this and other career experience, set out on her own to found AOC Systems Consortium, where she counsels clients seeking to adopt Systems practices and apply SE expertise.

“I liked puzzles and problem solving growing up,” O’Neil said. “I became increasingly interested in how the field of engineering would enable me to make a difference in people’s lives by working in mobility and infrastructure fields.”

She has applied that love for problem solving in all aspects of her career, including fighting for representation in the field--whether that was navigating largely male-represented teams as a young woman starting out or forming and developing diverse teams to work across mobility engineering as she does today.

She’s seen growth in the workforce since she started, but notes that there’s always a chance to improve.

“There’s more awareness and increased consciousness for the need and benefits to diverse contributions, and also for the dynamics and bias which can play out in environments like mobility engineering, which is still very male-dominated and not as diverse as it should be,” O’Neil said. “Our industry should continue to aspire to have a much stronger percentage of women and a diverse range of men and women—our challenges are only becoming more complex, and we need the most diverse complement of talent possible to generate the most creative, innovative and safe solutions.”

Through her work with SAE International, O’Neil has helped to make space for these diverse voices in engineering by facilitating and organizing executive roundtables and industry panels that highlight the increasing complexity and interconnected nature of mobility with a focus on Systems Engineering practices.

She encourages others to get involved, noting that memberships with organizations like SAE help women engineers build connections and develop professionally, giving them more visibility in the field.

For the up and comers, she has a piece of advice.

“Keep your curiosity!” she said. “It’s a great skill for problem solving and it compels us to keep learning and adapting our way forward as technology continues to evolve and challenges unfold.”