4 min read

A Commitment to Safety: Keolis' Kellie Andrews Shares Her Journey in Safety

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June 14-18, 2021 is Health, Safety, and Security week for all global Keolis locations. To kick off the week here in North America we are featuring a 3-part blog series discussing our priorities around safety with the heads of Safety across our region. Today, we hear from Kellie Andrews, VP of Safety, Security, and Environment for our Boston location.

As the Vice President of Safety, Security, and Environment of Keolis Commuter Services in Boston, Kellie Andrews has a big job: to ensure a culture of safety and security within the company. She and the Boston team work collaboratively with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to ensure this culture is ingrained into the operations throughout the region.

While working in safety roles for 11 years, she became increasingly fascinated by incident and accident investigation before getting the opportunity to provide solutions to minimize these occurrences. Now, Andrews assesses safety performance, implements safety management systems, and educates her colleagues on preparedness.

Despite the challenges of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrews is looking forward to using her expertise to take Keolis’ safety record to the next level. This interview explores her experiences as a safety leader and how she stays #SafeWithKeolis.

Question: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we approach safety?
Answer: The pandemic has forced everyone in the company, the country, and the world to think outside the box and be more adaptive in our thinking and the manner in which we approach risk. It forced us to be more dynamic in our decision-making and be more aware of what information we use when it comes to risk-based decisions. When I was in the military, we often had to make time-sensitive decisions and quickly adjust; I think the pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt to that approach. Don’t be afraid to adjust and change course as information changes. That’s been the most significant change to the way in which we operate and approach risk.

Question: What are the most important ingredients to developing a safety-first culture?
Answer: When I hear “safety-first culture,” I think about embedding the principles of safety into the way we think and how we execute our roles, responsibilities, and tasks. The most important ingredient to that is remaining human and understanding what drives us and what’s important to us. It’s important for everyone to understand the “why” behind “what” we do. That's something I enjoy about collaborating with MBTA, we share a strong commitment to the safety of the communities we serve.

Question: Training and collaboration are key to a safe culture. How do you ensure your team is equipped with the right tools and training?
Answer: We start with our own SWOT analysis. I look at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from a perspective of improvement. I consider what knowledge, skills, and attitude are required to improve the direction of the safety program. The key part for my team is to not just implement these initiatives but lead them. We embed these functions into the way we do business, and continually evaluate and expand our understanding of where we are and what skills will bring us closer to achieving our goals.

Question: Since joining Keolis, what #SafetyMoment are you most proud of?
Answer: Since joining Keolis, what impresses me about the company and organization is its executive and senior-level commitment to safety. I don't think I've seen that anywhere else in the world. To have a leadership team that is so focused on and accepting of the principles and practices that we want to implement makes my job so much easier. I can't be any more ecstatic about that; it's a welcome surprise.

Question: If you could go back to your first day working in safety, what would you tell yourself?
Answer: This is going to be a trip! I would tell myself; you have no idea where this could take you in terms of personal and professional growth, travel around the world, and the fascinating people that you get to meet at conferences. There will be times that this is very hard. As an investigator, you work in a field where you see some not-so-great things. Always remember that people are inherently good, and they mean well. Sometimes things happen. Just be yourself. That will bring people on this journey with you.


Kellie started operationally as an Air Traffic Controller after completing her degree at the Australian Defense Academy. In time, she would control all 3 domains (tower, approach and area) in both the civil and military environments.

Kellie’s first spark of interest in safety came watching an F111 land while on fire, and through the management of a number of other serious events. As an Operations Manager she learned risk, became responsible for local investigations, and worked with the local community to prevent accidents/incidents in the Bush Fire season.

A need to understand the ‘why’ led her to study Systems Safety through a Masters program. With a passion for what she does and a desire to share that knowledge, Kellie is a full member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators, has been a speaker at the World Aviation Safety Summit twice, a speaker at the Women in Aviation Conference, a speaker at the Middle Eastern Investigators Summit, and an invited participant to ICAO’s inaugural Global Gender Summit in 2019.

The learning never stops and as she joins Keolis with an enthusiasm to truly understand rail and how we currently approach safety, she is seeking an appropriate topic for her latest Masters in Human Factors.