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People News: GATX, IntelliTrans, MBTA

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Pictured (left to right): Chad Raube, IntelliTrans; Ken Sherman, IntelliTrans; Kevin J. Hillesland, GATX; Geoffrey D. Phillips, GATX; John M. Sbragia, GATX; and Ron Ester, MBTA.

Pictured (left to right): Chad Raube, IntelliTrans; Ken Sherman, IntelliTrans; Kevin J. Hillesland, GATX; Geoffrey D. Phillips, GATX; John M. Sbragia, GATX; and Ron Ester, MBTA.

GATX Corporation elevates three senior executives. Also, a new President and CEO takes the throttle at IntelliTrans; and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Chief Safety Officer resigns.


GATX, a Chicago-based transportation asset lessor, has promoted Kevin J. Hillesland to Senior Vice President, Structured Finance; Geoffrey D. Phillips to Senior Vice President, Operations; and John M. Sbragia to Senior Vice President, Engineering and Quality.

Hillesland will continue to drive various strategic initiatives, including GATX’s investment in aircraft spare engines. Since joining GATX in 1994, he has held leadership positions in corporate finance, portfolio investments and structured finance. Hillesland also serves as a Board member of Rolls-Royce & Partners Finance, GATX’s 50%-owned aircraft spare engine leasing joint venture. In his most recent role as Vice President and Executive Director, Structured Finance, Hillesland led efforts to grow GATX’s program of direct investment in aircraft spare engines. According to GATX, the company has invested approximately $770 million since 2021 to acquire 29 wholly owned aircraft spare engines.

Phillips will continue leading Rail North America’s maintenance operations. He joined the company in 1996, and has held leadership positions in finance, business development, customer experience, operations and rail services and logistics. Phillips served previously as Vice President and Group Executive, Operations, implementing numerous maintenance network optimization initiatives that the company said resulted in improved operational efficiency and productivity across GATX’s rail maintenance shops while maintaining the highest level of safety.

Sbragia will continue leading Rail North America’s railcar engineering, product design and development and quality control functions. Since 1998, he has held engineering and quality leadership positions at GATX. Most recently, Sbragia was Vice President and Group Executive, Engineering and Quality, representing the company on a number of regulatory committees and trade organizations to share his technical knowledge.

“Kevin, Geoff and John are proven leaders with extensive depth and breadth of experience in their respective fields,” said Robert C. Lyons, President and CEO at GATX. “These promotions reflect GATX’s significant investment in our global growth strategy and ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest standards of safety, integrity and service.”

Last month, GATX reported its second-quarter 2023 financials, which included Rail North America fleet utilization of 99.3% and a renewal success rate of 85.3%s. Said Lyons at that time: “We see continued strong demand globally for the majority of railcar types in our existing fleets.” Also, GATX has begun reporting its Lease Price Index (LPI) based on a modified methodology.


IntelliTrans—a global provider of multi-modal supply chain and logistics solutions for the bulk and break-bulk industries—has hired Chad Raube as President and CEO, succeeding Ken Sherman, who has retired. Sherman was one of Railway Age readers’ most influential leaders for 2023.

With more than 30 years of experience leading technology-enabled services and software companies in North America and Europe, Raube served most recently as CEO of Info-Pro Lender Services and Guaranty Closing and Title, leading their transformation and delivering strong year-on-year EBITDA and customer growth, IntelliTrans reported. Raube was also a Partner at London-based Dawn Capital, a SaaS-focused venture capital firm, and he launched and led the consumer broadband internet business at Virgin Media in the U.K.

“I am humbled and thrilled to join this excellent organization, and I look forward to collaborating with our teams to build upon the strong foundation that is in place as we continue to delight our valued customers, set the benchmark of excellence in our industry with our leading-edge technologies and services, and guide our business to new heights,” Raube said. “As we embark upon this promising new chapter for IntelliTrans, I want to sincerely thank Ken Sherman for his dedication to and leadership of IntelliTrans over the years.”

IntelliTrans is a Roper Technologies business. It was recently recognized in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Execution Technologies 2023 report.


Aug. 30 will be the last day for MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ron Ester, according to WBUR, which reported that the reason for his resignation is “unclear.” Ester joined the transit authority three years ago after service at Chicago Transit Authority.

“I am proud of the work that we have done to make our system safer during my tenure, despite the many challenges that we have faced,” Ester said in a statement provided to Boston’s National Public Radio news station. “The MBTA has been underinvested in for decades, and it has taken a lot of hard work to make our system as safe as it is today.” He wrote that “‘there is still work to be done’ to improve the safety of the T,” according to the news outlet’s Aug. 15 report.

The Federal Transit Administration in June 2022 launched a safety investigation at MBTA due to issues affecting both employees and riders. 

At the end of the month, MBTA Senior Advisor for Capital, Operations and Safety Rod Brooks will take over Ester’s role as the transit authority seeks a replacement, WBUR reported. Brooks was hired in July.

“In an email to employees, MBTA General Manager and CEO Philip Eng said Ester has ‘made a real difference’ in addressing T safety issues,” according to WBUR. “‘During his tenure at the T,’ Eng wrote, ‘Ron was instrumental in implementing recommendations, policies and practices following the 2019 Safety Panel Report, including the Safety Management System, our COVID response efforts and recovery, and the subsequent FTA Safety Management Inspection.’”

Eng, who took over MBTA leadership on April 10, told WBUR “earlier this month that many of the issues facing the beleaguered transit system were due to a severe shortage of workers and attrition among current employees. He said the T was focusing on hiring and trying to prevent employees from retiring or quitting.”

Steve Poftak stepped down as MBTA leader on Jan. 3, 2023, following the FTA’s call for safety improvements at transit authority.

The FTA is also reviewing Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s maintenance and safety protocols.

Further Reading:

Second FTA Safety Probe Targets MBTA

FTA Issues Safety Directives to MBTA

FTA to MBTA: Additional Safety Changes Needed

How MBTA Coped During Partial Shutdowns

FTA Rejects MBTA Safety Improvement Plan

NTSB: Short Circuit Probable Cause of MBTA Passenger Fatality

MBTA’s Operations Control Center Policies Meet FTA Requirements for Safety of the Public and Workforce

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