A boardroom full of women 

by Sonya Veerasamy, Vice-President of Women in Transport

It was a landmark moment for Women in Transport last week as we joined our Advance mentors and mentees for training with EW Group.

The Advance mentoring programme is a pilot scheme that Angela Gainsford, Christine Hurley and I have been collaborating on for a year. It was wonderful to see this work culminate in a boardroom full of talented women, working across the transport sector, passionate about the industry and committed to progressing their careers.

Meeting the diverse group of mentors, who each have something unique to offer their mentees, was equally exciting. The empathy of these individuals, their understanding of the need for mentoring and greater diversity in the transport sector and, overwhelmingly, their desire to share their knowledge and experience to help their mentees advance their careers was evident.

The three of us came away energised from the positivity, passion and commitment of these two wonderful groups.

As this is the first mentoring programme for Women in Transport we wanted to ensure our mentees and mentors were supported with training. The training session for the mentees was delivered by Jane Farrell and the mentor training by Yvonne Howard. The sessions were practical, engaging and interactive, preparing our mentors and mentees to maximise the value of the mentoring relationship, arming them with a toolkit and much food for thought ahead of the official pairing on 7 December.

We had capacity for a small number of matched pairs on this pilot scheme; 20 in total, and were amazed to receive 60 mentor applications and 85 mentee applications. We are delighted for our successful pairs but for those that we were unable to match I’d like to share something from another inspiring event I attended last week.

Organised by Dionne Condor-Farrell at TfL ‘Where’s the BAME in Tech?’ had a great line up of speakers talking about tech opportunities in the transport sector and some of the wonderful work being done to raise the visibility of these opportunities. Head over to @transportwm on Twitter to see our live tweets and highlights (23/11/2017). Something in particular Rashada Harry, founder of Your Future, Your Ambition, said is what I’d like to share: “We have two hands - one to help yourself and one to help someone else. If everyone took just one hour a month to help someone else then imagine the difference we could make”.

A theme that ran through the event was if you have power then you can can empower others around you. You don’t have to be a senior leader or manager to have power, it might be as simple as being a chair in a meeting and ensuring everyone has a fair share of voice. So my call to all of those wonderful individuals that applied as mentors that we didn’t match; even if it’s not through formal mentoring you can sponsor, advocate and support women working in transport. For those women that we didn’t match as mentees, join Women in Transport, come along to an event, connect with us - we are a tribe, your tribe and we are here to support you.

Our thanks to ENGIE and TXM Recruit for sponsoring Advance and Xanta Rail for sponsoring the printing of our mentoring booklet. 

Our thanks also to PwC for generously hosting us in their 1 Embankment Place office and to Tessa Loftus for all her support on the day.

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