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10 Questions with Tony Corsi

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Forty-eight years ago, a young man walked into the recruiting office at Windsor Station in Montréal to take an aptitude test, with the hopes of working at CPR, as it was known in those days. Little did young Tony Corsi realize that this was the beginning of a lifelong and distinguished career with CP that would ultimately lead him to Calgary. Corsi currently works as a specialist, publications and ratings, with the Agreements and Publications department. He was hired on July 16, 1969, and is currently CP’s longest-serving employee.

How did you come to apply with CP?

Tony Corsi's pay stub from many years ago.

I was nearing the end of high school in 1969, and my dad took me aside one day and told me, “You go to work or to school.” So, the day after my last exam, I went to downtown Montréal and applied at all the big companies. CP called me back to take their aptitude test and a few days later offered me a job as office boy. My paycheque was $133.94 every two weeks. That was a lot in those days.

What did your job as office boy entail?

Duties included picking up and distributing mail for the department, filing and yes, a coffee run for the department supervisors.

What is your role at CP now, 48 years later?

It didn’t take long for me to be transferred to a variety of clerk positions and eventually land in Property Accounts in 1977, then Intermodal Services in 1978. From there, I moved to Pricing Services and in 1993 to the Contract Administration group. Over the years, this group has morphed into Agreements and Publications, as support for the Marketing department.

“We have the ability to problem solve and disseminate information much more quickly. Oh, and the advent of the calculator—miraculous!”

Today, I am a specialist pricing support person, mainly responsible for merchandise unrates. If there is no match in our system, my job is to find a rate and investigate why the car didn’t rate. Sometimes this means going back to an account manager in Marketing and requesting them to create a rate, which is input into the system. I also look into Rate EDI Network issues, and work with foreign carriers on rate problems and security surrounding our pricing application.

You have seen progression throughout the company in regard to technology and practices. What are some of your thoughts?

Well, the biggest change I’ve been witness to is communications. Back in the day, it could take weeks to get an answer regarding a tariff. I remember printing, then typing out the memo on carbon copy paper, mailing it and waiting, which seemed to take forever. Now, communications are instantaneous with email and Skype. We have the ability to problem solve and disseminate information much more quickly. Oh, and the advent of the calculator—miraculous!

When you started your career at CP nearly 50 years ago, did you think you would be here that long?

No, not at all. It depends on individual situations of course and sometimes I’m almost embarrassed to say 48 years, but remember my generation was different. I was the breadwinner of the family and changing jobs back then was risky. I didn’t mind making the move to Calgary in 1998 with my three young kids. It was a fresh start as I was recently widowed. Two of my kids are now married and I have three grandchildren. One of my sons moved back East. In fact, he works as an operations manager with CN Intermodal in Toronto. Plus, my sister just retired from CP, so my life is here.

Will you be retiring any time soon?

CP has been good to me. Retirement may come sooner than later now and I’m looking forward to travelling, frequent visits with my grandchildren and just having fun. I play on the CP softball team and would like to continue with that.

What is one of your greatest achievements with CP?

Definitely having the opportunity to work on the rails after being called for strike duty in 1995. It was satisfying to be on the tracks and learning what our employees in the field do every day. I was stationed in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and helped with track maintenance, and taking out spikes and bolts. It sure gave me a different appreciation for this industry. I felt like a true railroader and loved every bit of the experience.

You’ve witnessed Head Office transition from Montréal to Calgary, and now Ogden. Do you have a favourite location?

It was good to bring the company back to its roots by relocating to Ogden Yard. I like the campus-style setting and we have everything we need here. In the summer, it’s nice to be outside, walk a few laps and get your steps in.

Any regrets?

Just a couple. Woodstock, for one. I was so busy working and starting my career with CP, I missed out on one of the greatest musical revolutions. Not finishing up my economics degree is a close second. What do you think about Canada 150 and CP’s involvement?

The creation of Canada is forever linked to the history of the railroad. CP helped build the country. This company has left a deep footprint in Canada as so many cities and communities sprung up around the railroad. I am proud to work for a company that has deep roots tied to the birth of a nation. I’m also glad we brought the beaver back for the CP logo, just in time for the celebrations. It’s a symbol that is synonymous with CP.

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