Monorail exec: One by one, Las Vegas can address all of its troubles

Ingrid Reisman, vice president and chief marketing officer of the Las Vegas Monorail, poses in the Flamingo monorail station Thursday, Jan 14, 2016.

Ingrid Reisman, vice president and chief marketing officer at Las Vegas Monorail, recently joined the board of trustees for Green Chips, an organization that brings together private, public and not-for-profit resources to promote sustainability, clean energy and environmental conservation.

Tell us about your interest in Green Chips.

Because the Monorail operates zero-emissions trains and has a net positive annual air quality impact, it makes sense to be a part of this organization and participate in even more efforts to increase and expand the sustainability voice in Nevada.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

I was 22 and working as the assistant to the vice president of an advertising agency. Late one day when I was stressed, my boss said very simply in her Houston drawl, “It’s just like eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time.”

What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?

There isn’t just one. Our education system is ranked one of the worst in the nation. We have a serious water resource issue facing our desert community that we have to address. Given the heightened awareness of the potential threats cities like ours face, the ratio of police officers to Strip tourists is frighteningly low for a corridor that is the economic driver of our state. We are lacking in mental health resources and expertise in specialty care, and although UNLV is adding a medical school, we still lack significant quality health care resources for a community our size.

What challenges has the Monorail faced, and how did the organization overcome them?

The Monorail has always been an important part of the resort corridor and has provided mobility to millions of leisure and business visitors, but it has not always been perceived that way. That has been a challenge. We play an important role in the mobility of the resort corridor during events and conventions.

Another challenge has been how to capitalize on our existing station connection to the Las Vegas Convention Center and how to use it as a catalyst to connect to the destination’s other two major convention centers. Those connections now are recommended as part of the Regional Transportation Commission’s Transportation Investment Business Plan.

Third, the Monorail has always been an unusual system in that it has always covered its operational costs and some of its capital costs. We were faced with a challenge to create a sustainable business model that would allow the system to cover all of its costs. So we made some changes in 2015 in how operations are managed, which created significant savings and put the system in a positive long-term financial situation.

Where do you see the Monorail in five years?

I expect the system will be connected to Mandalay Bay and Sands Expo. I also envision we will have leveraged those connections to further integrate the system into how meeting and convention organizers plan and conduct events.

In 10 years, we will have leveraged our connections to conventions to also be connected to the airport.

What can we do to encourage the use of public transit?

Our bus system is one of the most efficient public transit systems in the United States. Still, we can always improve on what we have. The express routes and high-frequency routes have significantly improved service for thousands of commuters and made transit relevant to many residents who otherwise might not have considered it as a travel mode. We should support expanding those services and augment them with other options, including light rail when and where it makes sense.

What are you reading?

“The Reason I Jump,” “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a book of Alice Munro short stories and a couple of books on executive functioning and executive skills in children.

Describe your management style.

I think I empower. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have been given the opportunity to create: departments, structures and programs — things that didn’t exist before — and to test and stretch myself and my skills. It has kept me passionate and engaged. I try to allow those same kinds of opportunities.

What is your dream job, outside of your current field? Why?

I polled my kids: My son said I have skills to be a good pastry chef or dog walker, and my daughter voted for pianist or interior designer “because our house doesn’t look bad.”

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I love to travel and thoroughly enjoy my beach vacations, but I’m a Nevada girl.

Whom do you admire?

My mom and my kids, equally. My mom was a single mom who sometimes worked two jobs. She always made time for our music lessons, sports activities and school events. I was an adult before I found out she lived on little sleep and sometimes had $5 to her name. As kids, we never had a clue. We always thought we were boringly middle class. My kids, Lily and Lucas, make me proud every day. We have a “neurologically diverse” household, and both my kids spend a lot of energy to fit into the expectations of a sometimes narrow definition of normal. They never give up and never complain. It continually inspires me. Lucas is also becoming quite a self-advocate and learning to explain what it means to have autism. I see how that has empowered him. On top of it, they’re just good people: kind, compassionate and funny.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

The piles of paper that seem to reproduce overnight on my kitchen counter and desk. Staying organized and on top of appointments, activities and commitments is a perpetual work in progress.

Where do you like to go for business lunches?

If given the opportunity, I’ll pick sushi for every meal.

What is something people might not know about you?

My mother and the woman who babysat me until I was in school both are German, so I learned English the way a native German speaker would speak it. I still have to focus on my “r” when I say some words; specifically, the word “regional.” I worked for the Regional Transportation Commission for seven years and had to say that word a lot.