How did you first hear about Women in Transport?
I was introduced to Sonya Veerasamy from Women in Transport, who was looking for sponsors to support the pilot Advance mentoring programme in 2017. At the time, Sonya was working at ENGIE and TXM was supporting ENGIE on their TfL contract. Both ENGIE and TXM are committed to increasing diversity in the talent pool for this contract. We recognised that supporting Women in Transport was aligned to this objective so TXM and ENGIE jointly sponsored the pilot year of the programme.
What motivated you to become a mentor on Advance?
Firstly, I felt as sponsor, we had to truly believe in the programme and participate.
Secondly, I have worked in business and recruitment for more years than I’d like to remember. Over the years, I have worked with some inspiring individuals (and some not so) but I have learnt from them all. I’d like to think I’ve been a fundamental part of the success and growth of the TXM Group of companies; starting in 2006 with just 5 people to now employing 350 people with an annual turnover of circa £170 million. As you can imagine, there have been good times and not so good times. I feel I have some insights and knowledge that I can pass on.
And lastly, but more importantly, I have a 16 year old daughter who has recently started 6th Form. I’d like to think that one day someone will take the time to impart their knowledge and experience to assist her in her career.
How did you approach your first meeting with your mentee?
I’m very relaxed in those first meetings. Firstly, I think it’s important to understand and get to know the person; that might be achieved during the first session or it could take 2 - 3 sessions. The quicker I get to know the person, the quicker I can work out where I can assist them. It’s different for each individual; it could be building someone’s confidence, career advice/guidance including interview preparation, CV writing, job applications or it could be a complete change of career. Sometimes, the person may just need to prioritise what’s important and change their mindset to ensure that they are being the best they can possibly be.
Have you learnt anything from being a mentor?
It’s shown me that I’ve actually got quite a lot to offer someone outside my own organisation. It’s relatively easy to be a mentor within your own business; the people we mentor are paid and employed by us so, to a certain degree, they will feel they are obliged to listen. External people don’t have that obligation, so it’s been really positive for me to impart my knowledge and experience and for that be viewed as helpful.
What advice would you give to women working in the transport sector who are looking to progress their career?
Make a plan: Consider your end goal / aim and do the research to understand what you need to attain it. It could be further qualifications, gaining additional skills (you may have to volunteer). If it’s a particular role, try to get a job specification for that position so that you can identify what’s required and build those skills.
Seek a mentor or a sponsor: The right mentors or sponsors will help you identify and work on the skills you need to succeed at work.
Use your appraisals: Don’t be scared of feedback this will help you understand what you're doing well and what you can improve. Ask what you need to do to reach your objectives and ensure it’s documented.
Know your industry: Become a student of your industry; learn who has won contracts, who has been promoted recently. You can learn some valuable lessons by simply reaching out to colleagues.
Network: Your network is your most important tool, nurture it, value it and don’t abuse it.
Be visible: Attend social and networking events. Join a professional organisation like Women in Transport that has a regular events programme where you can build your network.
Use social media as your friend: Connect with like-minded people, people within your own organisations and people of influence.
Be professional: LinkedIn and other channels are your shop window - respect them, don’t write something on there that you will regret one day.
Believe in yourself: Despite the work I do to try and encourage more women / girls into engineering/transport, it’s very unlikely that my daughter will choose a career in this sector. I really want women/girls to believe and understand that they can be whatever they want to be, despite the stereotypes or the doubters. I never want my daughter or her friends to be in a position where they are told they can’t or shouldn’t be doing something just because they are women.
Our thanks to Gary for his enthusiasm and support. He has become an incredible male ally and his passion and commitment to increasing representation of women in transport shines through.
About TXM Group: TXM Group provides contract, interim and permanent recruitment solutions, as well as training and project support within a range of specialist areas, across a number of industries. TXM Recruit is an award-winning, engineering talent search specialist. It is the only privately owned, multi-site engineering recruitment business offering a complete end-to-end resource solution. TXM Recruit goes above and beyond to empower, motivate and develop its people, inspiring them to go “The Xtra Mile” in everything they do.
The support of our corporate sponsors and partners allows us to keep our membership fee low and accessible to support all women working in the transport sector. If you are interested in partnership with Women in Transport, please get in touch.