Growing Career Horizons

Profiling Maria Shurik, GCRTA Manager of Employee Development

 Growing Career Horizons

Jan 5, 2024

Early Years and Educational Foundation

While residing in Miami, Florida, following her undergraduate college graduation, Maria Shurik explored the possibility of pursuing a master's degree in public administration. Seeking guidance, she consulted with an admissions counselor at Florida International University.

This led to a recommendation for a Clerk position within the Director’s Office of the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department. According to Maria, this role became a gateway to public service, providing her with a fresh perspective and a sense of responsibility relative to internal auditing, which ensured the efficiency of park operations.

After six months with the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department, Maria returned to Cleveland, Ohio, to pursue her master's degree in public administration at Cleveland State University. During her studies, she served as a graduate assistant in the Center for Professional Development, engaging with professionals from various public sector organizations in Northeast Ohio.

In that role, Maria had the opportunity to connect with staff members from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), who were participating in the Public Transit Academy. It was the first time she considered GCRTA as a potential employer. She was impressed and inspired by the organization’s investment and commitment to employee development.

Career at GCRTA

Maria began her journey with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) as an intern in the Internal Audit Department during the summer of 2013, while pursuing her graduate studies. Following her graduation in May 2014, Maria transitioned into a full-time role within the GCRTA Management Development Program, a dynamic experience that spanned two years.

Upon completing the development program in 2016, she began the role of a staff auditor within the Internal Audit Department. In 2018, recognizing her passion for collaborative, people-centric work, Maria sought audit assignments that provided exposure to the Human Resources function at GCRTA. During this time, she learned as much as she could about human resources information systems, such as Oracle and Kronos.

The diverse projects she worked on paved the way for her evolution into an HRIS Specialist in 2019. In this capacity, Maria played a role in managing employee labor contracts with entities like the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP, Transit Police Bargaining Unit) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU Local 268). Her engagements involved interactions with union officials and the Labor and Employee Relations Department, enriching her understanding of the dynamics of labor relations.

Equipped with comprehensive knowledge of HR systems and a deep understanding of employee labor contracts, Maria switched to the role of a Labor and Employee Relations Specialist. While in this role, she found ways to remain engaged with employee development, particularly through mentoring interns, facilitating classes on labor relations topics, and participating in LeadDIVERSITY, a leadership program that helps professionals from Northeast Ohio raise their awareness of diversity, inclusion, and equity issues and builds their leadership skills.

She has also assisted with the launch of GCRTA’s women-led employee resource group, Elevating Women Together (EWT). Her previous experiences at GCRTA paved the way for her recent promotion to Manager of Employee Development in 2021, a position she currently occupies.

Maria says that the most rewarding aspect of her position is "identifying individuals’ strengths to achieve goals and helping them showcase those strengths." Lastly, Maria stated that the biggest impact on her career has been the supervisors who have managed her and her mentors. She says that they "helped me through the most difficult decisions along my path, challenged my abilities, guided me, and trusted my guidance on work projects."