In This Episode:
Merging Engineering and Marketing Mindsets
Valerie Duque has established herself as a dedicated, diverse leader in the railroad industry. She began her career as an engineer at BNSF Railway and has moved throughout the company, learning and proving her value along the way. Eventually, she made her way to the marketing side and landed in her current role of Director of Marketing – Consumer Products at BNSF.
Valerie graduated college with an Electrical Engineering degree and spent the first half of her career working her way up BNSF’s engineering department. This career path took her to railroad job sites all around the United States, which she reflects on as one of the hardest but most rewarding parts of her career. And eventually, it led her to become the first female signal engineering supervisor in BNSF’s history. She has since opened the door for other female leaders to follow in that path.
After about nine years, with an engineering mindset and a knack for relationship building, Valerie made her way over to the sales and marketing side of the business. Faced with completely new types of challenges, she learned how to tackle them all and quickly moved throughout multiple arenas like consumer product sales, chemicals and plastics, food and beverage pricing and customer service. Finally, she landed in her current role, where she spearheads process and technology integration with intermodal customers around the world.
Working on the railroad has given Valerie a direct line of sight into the supply chain, especially for intermodal transportation – or anything that moves in a large box or container. While this includes materials like grains, plastic and coal, the majority of the freight BNSF moves is finished goods – or the consumer products that Valerie oversees – such as furniture, appliances and even clothing.
Valerie brings a humble, positive energy to the way she leads, always encouraging her employees to be their best, authentic selves and to look past the things they cannot control. She has a heart for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and takes a lot of pride in the way her company has expanded their DEI efforts since welcoming their first female CEO in 2021.
Hear all about Valerie’s diverse career path, all she’s learned from spending 19 years as a woman in railroading and the words of advice she gives to those she leads. You won’t want to miss another great episode with an inspiring female leader. We hope you’ll give it a listen!
“What I really like about my job is, we’re not thinking about the way that things are today. We’re trying to think of all those different types of possibilities of how the supply chain can change between now and five years and 10 years from now. And the fact that we can pull different levers in order to be able to react to that, where before pulling that lever could take a little bit longer than we wanted to…But now…we’re being very smart and intentional about it…if we need to pull that lever again, we can make that decision very quickly and put it in place.”
About Valerie Duque
Valerie Duque serves as Director Marketing, Consumer Products at BNSF Railway, one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies operating in three Canadian provinces and on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states. As one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages, BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply and power American homes and businesses every day.
Valerie’s current role is to lead the railway’s supply chain integration initiatives focused on process and technology integration with intermodal customers. Valerie joined BNSF in 2005 as an Engineering management trainee in Chicago, Illinois. During her 9 years in the Engineering department, she held several positions overseeing multiple signal construction projects and the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems throughout multiple BNSF operating divisions. Following her time in Engineering, Valerie joined BNSF’s marketing department, where she has held several marketing and sales roles in Consumer Products, Industrial Products and Customer Support.
Valerie holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at El Paso and Master of Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management.
She enjoys traveling the world, hiking the U.S. National Parks and volunteering with local sporting dog rescues. Valerie and her wife reside in Fort Worth, Texas with their 3 dogs Duke, Rocko and Aloo. For more, connect with Valerie on LinkedIn.