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Rider's Almanac Blog

Career Tracks Light Rail

Career Tracks: Perry Gunderson, Manager, SCADA communications & signals

Posted by Laura Baenen | Monday, June 7, 2021 2:47:00 PM

Many people who work at Metro Transit take on new responsibilities and roles throughout their careers. Career Tracks highlights the paths employees have taken to their latest assignment and where they see themselves going next. To learn more about career development opportunities at Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council, visit metrocouncil.org/employment

How did you begin your career with Metro Transit? I began my career at Metro Transit as a signal technician in April 2013. For most of my career, I worked for Napco International in Hopkins as a project manager. Due to a reduction in force, I was laid off and became a train conductor for the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) Railroad for about a year before an economic downturn. When most of my class of conductors was furloughed, I started looking for a different job. My wife came upon the posting for Metro Transit signal technician. She knew I wanted to get into a position where I could use my ability to work independently and use my technical skills. 

What were your career goals and what steps did you take to achieve them? 

My career goals have always been to be in management and to utilize my leadership skills. When I was 17, I joined the Army, from which I retired in 2014 after 27 years. For the first six years, I was a combat engineer in the Army Reserves in the Fargo-Moorhead area while attending Minnesota State University, Moorhead where I earned a degree in mass communications, with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in marketing. I had dreams of being in international business and moved to the Twin Cities. But I missed being part of the military and the camaraderie. After a year, I re-enlisted and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard Signal Corps where I progressed through the ranks to 1st Sergeant and Master Sergeant. I was deployed twice to Iraq. Back home, I worked in St. Paul, placing soldiers in different military schools. Since joining Metro Transit, I have risen from signal technician to signal supervisor and then acting manager from October 2020 until I was promoted in March.

What advice do you have for others who want to take on more or different responsibilities? 

Listen to those around you, be an asset, be consistent, be someone that people can depend on and constantly try to learn and challenge yourself. Ask questions and be prepared for when opportunity presents itself. People with a bachelor's of science degree don't necessarily come up through these ranks. It's the technical and communication skills that I learned from Napco, my military background and being a conductor that gave me the necessary tools to succeed at Metro Transit. I would say my military background is what most prepared me for this position, the training, the leadership, how to deal with people, how to communicate and how to lead.