HART CEO Adelee Le Grand to be the Guest at the Next Conversation with a CEO
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (September 10, 2021) -- Adelee Marie Le Grand, the relatively new CEO of HART, the public transportation system in Hillsborough County, was brought on board to rebuild and revise the system. She has two decades of executive experience in public transit in Atlanta and New Orleans and served, until January, as vice president of one of the larges transportation consultancies in the world.
So, why did she choose the troubled HART to oversee?
“Defeat,” she said. “I was a finalist for a CEO position that was very public. Although I was unsuccessful in that endeavor, my brand was elevated to the national level. I received a phone call from a colleague convincing me that I was meant to be at HART.
“As he stated, ‘They need you to transform HART into a modern mobility company.’ Who does not want to be transformative and modern?”
Le Grand will be the next guest of the USF Muma College of Business’s Conversation with a CEO scheduled for Sept. 29. It is tentatively set as a face-to-face event at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, 124 S. Franklin St. in downtown Tampa. The 8-9 a.m. question-and-answer session is free, though registration is required. To register, click here. This will be the first in-person Conversation with a CEO since the spring of 2020.
Le Grand rose to the top from a list of 160 applicants and was selected by the HART Board of Directors in November 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. She delivered a powerful public presentation introducing her vision of a transportation network to unite and offer the community immediate access and opportunity.
For five years, until January 2021, Le Grand served as is a vice president at Transdev, one of the largest providers of mobility solutions in the world and her duties included providing strategic advisory services to transit clients in North America.
Through contract agreements with Transdev, Le Grand served as a member of the executive team for two large transit agencies. In December 2019, she assumed the role of chief mobility officer for the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority (ATL). From 2016-19, she was appointed the chief strategy officer for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. where her responsibilities included developing the first strategic mobility plan for the New Orleans region and a transit asset management plan.
Taking over HART held unique challenges, Le Grand said, and taking over during a pandemic magnified those challenges.
Among the roadblocks: “Not being able to physically engage with the team,” she said, “and creating a physically distant work environment, addressing the driver shortage and balancing supply and demand.”
All of that had to be addressed, plus taking over a transit system that, sort of, was in disarray.
“Whiplash,” was how she described the situation. “Since 2018, HART had five executive leaders. The staff was looking for stability, clarity and purpose. I felt that it was my duty to rebuild the culture of HART into one of trust, respect and transparency. These are simple words but complex tasks. Externally, we need to provide reliable service. Period.”
Though she has been here almost a year, Le Grand is already building a strategic plan for the system.
“My vision for HART is to make it a competitive mobility option,” she said. “This is done by meeting the needs of our current customers while being prepared to address future demand. Hillsborough County is growing, development is increasing, and housing is being pushed farther and farther from the urban workplace centers, making the need for reliable and affordable public transportation more critical than ever.”
To make all that happen, she said, HART must focus on doing more with existing resources to increase its efficiency and productivity.
“We need to make a commitment to provide excellent customer experience and get a commitment of funding support from our public and private partners,” she said, “and an affirmation from our community that investment in public mobility is directly connected to the economic viability of the Tampa Bay region.”
At the top of the list is rebuilding trust with employees, customers and community.
“To do that, she said, “I have to listen, learn, respond and repeat. I have to do what I say I will do and bring everyone along as we make the changes that are needed. We will be more reliable. We will renew our focus on the customer experience. We will be proactive in engaging with our community and our stakeholders.”
Her advice for students looking into careers in the public sector, particularly public transit?
“Focus on solutions and find ways to implement those solutions,” she said. “Transit requires creativity and collaboration. You won’t be successful without those two things.”
For professionals interested in moving into the public transportation business, Le Grand said this: “Approach your work like you are working in the private sector. Transit is a business, it’s just not for profit. We still need to generate revenue, be efficient with our resources, and implement the best solutions. Expect to work harder and longer, to make the impact that is needed.”
To register for the Conversation with a CEO event with Adelee Le Grand, click here.