TWC Alumnus and Assistant VP of External Relations at Union Pacific Hosts Professional Development Lunch

TWC Alumnus and Assistant VP of External Relations at Union Pacific Hosts Professional Development Lunch

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Maha Neouchy
November 16, 2012

James Houton, Assistant Vice President of External Relations at Union Pacific and 1986 TWC Alumnus, hosted a lunch at Union Pacific’s Washington, D.C. office for fall interns. He discussed the roles he held before coming to the railroad including:


After wrapping up his conversation with TWC interns, Mr. Houton took questions from students regarding his internship experience on the Hill, lobbying for companies like Microsoft and addressed concerns and progress of the railroad industry as a whole.


Kwon Jung, Business and Global Trade intern and student at Emerson College, asked "why big corporations are so reluctant to hire lobbyists." Houton informed attendees that Microsoft "now has a lobbying presence in Washington, D.C." At one point, when the company was at the top of its game, "it ran into a massive coordinated effort by executives who created incentives to go after Microsoft." In the end, they needed to create a presence in D.C. to battle this "coordinated effort"and ensure their voice is heard in Congress.


Jake Sokol, TWC's Manager of Annual Gifts, asked about "how lobbyists advocate for issues when they don't personally believe in that stance." Houton shared that had never dealt with something he found personally unethical, but lobbyists are sometimes given the option to "opt out." He imagines there are times when people are faced with ethical challenges but may justify their choice to defend an issue because of beliefs that "everyone should be entitled to representation, protected free speech, and advocacy."


Today, Houton brings more than 15 years of Senate leadership and Capitol Hill lobbying experience to Union Pacific. In his current role, he works on key railroad industry issues including safety, economic regulation and freight legislation. His expertise and experience cover a broad range of issues including:


  • Telecommunications and the Internet
  • Antitrust and Competition
  • Trade
  • Intellectual Property Protection
  • Health Care
  • Class Action/Litigation Reform
  • Immigration

[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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