Name: SUZANNE S. THORNBURG
Company: CAPITAL AND COLONIAL TRAILWAYS
City, State: With 3 locations across the state of Alabama--MADISON, MONTGOMERY and MOBILE, ALABAMA
Years in the Industry: 3 YEARS
How did you first get involved in the industry?
Our companies are fifth generation owned by my four adult children. Their father, Frank E. Montgomery III was the fourth generation owner of the companies for several years and on his death in 2010, I began serving on the board of directors on their behalf. I continued to serve for approximately eight years and began working in the day to day management of the companies in early 2019, after 25 years in the banking, investments and financial industry.
Who has inspired your career?
My children are my biggest inspiration. To continue the legacy of more than 90 years in this industry of fully committed, exceptional and safe charter bus service has been both demanding and rewarding. They regularly inquire, support and encourage our mission to supply the traveling public with the best customer experience from the most professional drivers while enjoying the safest, most reliable form of transportation.
I have an amazing team of hardworking, experienced and dedicated individuals who come together to fulfill our mission each and every day. We are consistently looking for ways to improve our processes and efficiencies within our operations. Each of them brings a specific talent or skillset to the group. I’m thankful my children either hold positions within or provide advice and direction for our companies as well.
My husband is my biggest supporter and provides me with needed motivation on the hardest days. He keeps me grounded and is the best listener, providing solid guidance and suggestions to business challenges whenever I need him.
What has been the greatest challenge/opportunity in your career?
I know we are all tired of talking about the pandemic but I must say after transitioning into a leadership role within a new industry, the last thing I expected to happen was Covid-19. I have held leadership positions for most of my life but this was very different, extremely unknown and completely uncharted territory. I spent more time in prayer daily than I ever had before. My team and I remained highly connected, engaged and were consistently searching for solutions to daily challenges. Covid-19 has definitely been my greatest challenge but it also presented our greatest opportunity as I can honestly say it forced us to find and utilize additional technology resources which provided the glue that kept us joined together over multiple locations. We also give God all the glory for we know He sustained us by navigating our decisions through those difficult days and keeping us together through it all.
What advice would you give to others about working in this industry?
Be prepared for a rewarding and challenging experience, yet completely different one every day. You must be a people person and have a love for others and serving them. You have to be prepared for the unexpected as there are no two days that are alike. You need to be a hard worker, as there is much to do and there will be days that seem to not have enough hours to get it all done. You have to understand and learn how to achieve work/life balance. Be ready to have a passion inside of you stirred for loving and caring for people and for the joy of seeing “your” buses roll safely down the roadways while feeling the sensation of a huge smile form across your face.
Why is it important for you to belong to Women in Buses Council?
I enjoy the connections I have made and the educational resources that WIB provides.