Executive Spotlight: Elham Shirazi, e-planning

Posted: 06/25/2020
Category: Member Spotlight

e-planning has been providing consulting services to regions and employers on all resources related to teleworking and alternative work schedules.  The “e” in e-planning refers to electronic collaborations between employers and employees that can substitute the time and the location of work to reduce trips. Our expertise is based on real life implementation of successful programs.

What are you and your organization seeking to achieve?

Being an urban and transportation planner, my organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for employees and employers that have to balance work life situations and the never-ending stress of time, expenses, and stress associated with commuting.  Obviously, part of my mission statement is to reduce the environmental stress that the need for travel places on the climate and our footprint.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started as a planner in 1984 at what was know as the largest ridesharing organizations in the county called Commuter Computer in Southern California.  I always think back to how lucky I was that the Director asked me to write a brochure on telecommuting.  It was love at first byte! About six years later I started my private consulting practice with a few consulting gigs.  Pretty soon I saw the need materialize to not only work with employers but also with jurisdictions that chose to provide information, policies and training to employers and employees.  My first regional effort was called the Southern California Telecommuting Partnership, a $1.5 million contract, with local jurisdictions and an EDA grant that supported economic development post the Northridge earthquake of 1994 for employers that needed to provide business continuity.

How have you seen the TDM industry change?

It is great to see active transportation finally appear in TDM in the US. It is awesome that many TDM professionals now know that the offering of free parking is the first error an employer can make in understanding their employees’ transportation needs and solutions.  It is awesome to finally see telework gain its spotlight in the field.  I used to be kicked out of people’s offices because they thought it was a crazy idea, to now being kindly invited to discussions on how they can make telework part of their future.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 10 years?

We can only continue to grow given the limitations of time and space in how we travel for work and other needs. Covid will pass, but we need to make sure that, as responsible stakeholders, we continue to make it easier for people to conduct part of their work and life needs by using the technology infrastructure.

What brought you to ACT? What has been the most memorable part of your involvement in ACT?

I have been involved in ACT for over thirty years and since 2003 as a co-chair or chair of the Telework and Alternative Work Hours Council. Being on the Telework Council has been and continues to be the most memorable part of my involvement.  

What keeps you motivated?

Changing people’s lives and how we work keeps me motivated.  I am always gratified that once I work with an organization that I have made an impact on people’s quality of life and experience with teleworking.  You can see immediate change in an organization's culture on being mature in its interactions with the employees.   I am always motivated by the change I see in the need to waste time and effort commuting.  I think most employees really enjoy a few days a week off the roads and still accomplishing productivity.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your career?

Now!! Telework has finally gotten acceptance.

What is a great piece of advice you have received? Have you put it to use?

My Dad always said “train your children for the future.”  I am so happy to see my daughter teleworking part-time.  The Mom she knows is one that has always worked from home.

Any additional thoughts to share?

Stay involved in Act, in your communities, push for change and always be tenacious.

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