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Training, technology, transformation at NS

February 2020

Dominik Browne is pictured inside the Norfolk Southern Training Center at McDonough, Georgia.

With a passion for the ‘people side,’ Norfolk Southern training director is named a ‘Fast Tracker’

Dominik Browne is making an impact at Norfolk Southern – and across the industry. As director of training and development, Browne is helping to transform how NS and our industry trains and educates the next generation of railroaders.

For his contributions, Browne is among 10 railroaders across the industry selected by Railway Age magazine as 2020 “Fast Trackers.” According to the magazine, the annual recognition is for railroaders under the age of 40 who “have made an impact in their respective fields or within their company.” Browne and the other winners are featured in the magazine’s February issue.

In his current position, Browne oversees the Norfolk Southern Training Center – known as Railroad University – in McDonough, Georgia. While a large part of the center’s focus is on conductor trainees, the facility offers cutting-edge training for new recruits and existing employees across all three of our main operations departments. Browne, a 17-year NS veteran, is uniquely qualified for the role. A proud graduate of Virginia Military Institute, he hired on at NS as a management trainee and progressed into various positions of increasing responsibility in transportation and operations before moving to the training center.

“My operations background really could be leveraged in the training side, but I also have an appreciation for the people side of things – that’s where my passion is,” explains Browne of his decision to become part of NS’ Human Resources Department.

Growing up in a military family, he’s no stranger to the railroad way of moving around to take advantage of new opportunities as he advanced in his career. By experiencing multiple moves in his youth, he was exposed to different people and cultures along the way, equipping him with an inherently keen sense of diversity.

Browne majored in psychology in college and earned a master’s degree in human resource development.

Training for an age of rapid change

Helping railroad employees become more productive and adaptive amid the rapid pace of change in markets and technology is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job, he said.

“Things are moving so fast in today’s world,” he says. “In business, people are either driving change or impacting people through technology.”

Browne’s involvement in employee development and training using technology is evident through several impressive projects at the training center. His team collaborated to design the Heartwood A6 Airbrake Simulator used by mechanical trainees. By eliminating the need for instructor-led training, this simulation technology reduces training expenses while offering an efficient way to train employees to properly and safely test rail car air brakes.

As an added benefit, NS is selling this technology to other railroads for their in-house training. “It’s always nice to get a check from a competitor because they bought your product,” notes Browne. He said his team spent about two months developing the simulation, which meets or exceeds all Federal Railroad Administration requirements.  He says this innovative tool is a good example of how we are reimagining training at NS and beyond – roughly 200 people have undergone training on the air brake test simulator since early 2019.

Another example of recent improvements includes creation of a scheduling tool for conductor trainees. The PS Technology Crew Scheduler is integrated with our crew management system, increasing the efficiency of assigning the trainees to field positions.

Other exciting efforts from the training center and our HR department are in the works. Due to a high demand for current employees to attend training sessions at the center, future plans include a comprehensive hands-on introduction to the railroad. Future augmented learning offerings are on the docket for LinkedIn Learning, too.

Browne said he looks forward to completion of our new Atlanta-based headquarters building, and is excited about its location near universities and Tech Square in Midtown. “Being centralized and having everyone in the same location allows us to take advantage of diverse learning opportunities,” he says.

Supporting our business goals

Dan MacKay, AVP human resources and diversity, recognized Browne and his team for their contributions to NS and the industry.

“Our training center is known for delivering industry-leading training for new railroad hires, but by leveraging the talent on his team and incorporating technology and other process improvements, Dominik’s group is making an impact beyond just new hire training,” MacKay said. “Through continuing education and other productivity programs, he’s leading programs that support our business objectives in areas such as train and engine crew productivity and employee engagement.”

Through their efforts, Browne and his team are helping NS achieve industry-best service, efficiency, and growth through training, technology, and transformation.

Beyond his role at NS, Browne enjoys volunteering for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, learning from his involvement with professional HR organizations, rooting for the Steelers, and spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Visit here to read more about Browne and the other 10 under 40 recipients