'Do not limit yourself': VP, CMO of MTA's subway car equipment shares her path to success
News 12 crews caught up with Siu Ling Ko, the vice president and chief mechanical officer of subway car equipment at the MTA, to chat about how she has succeeded while defying the odds.
After her onboarding interview at the Coney Island MTA yard nearly 35 years ago, Siu Ling Ko is now the first female and the first Asian American vice president of subway car equipment.
"I'm very proud to be a Chinese woman working at this place," she says. "Especially for Asian women or little Asian girls, we're taught to be reserved, taught to be quiet and to act like a young lady. And there's nothing wrong with that - but at the same time, do not limit yourself. And that's the most important thing."
After leaving Hong Kong and immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 7, Ko moved to Chinatown with her parents - two important people she attributes her success to.
"Anyone can do this, but you have to put in the time. You have to put in the hard work and the dedication. It's necessary. And that's all for my parents. It's from our culture. This is what we believe in," she adds.
The subway car equipment team receives anywhere between five and 14 subway cars to be repaired weekly. They say that is takes about four weeks to get just one car back on the tracks.
"We want to make it clean and comfortable for the people, and safe so that people can take the train, go to work, and take the train home in one piece," Ko says.
Ko oversees the maintenance and repair of the nearly 8,000 MTA subway cars citywide. It's an important job, and even more important, she says, is this message she has for some of the system's smallest riders: "I tell them to not be afraid to do things. Do not be afraid of speaking up and working hard. And go for the jobs that traditionally may be not for a woman."