What does your current job involve?
Due to a family situation I took a step back from my job in transport in 2009. With my chemistry degree I was able to retrain as a science teacher. Over the years I took on more leadership responsibility for coaching and mentoring newly qualified staff and managing change projects.
I fulfilled a role in the education sector last year as Director of Learning but am now looking to return to the industry I have always been passionate about – transport. I am seeking an appropriate role that will allow me to use some of my competences which are: project and people leadership, commercial negotiation, stakeholder engagement and management and change management
I believe now is a great time to be part of the Transport sector and I am excited about the future.
Have you been involved in any major transport projects that you would like to tell us about?
Although I believe “the best is yet to come”, I am proud of what I achieved when I project managed the Mark 1 Replacement project. It was one of the most strategically important projects for the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) at that time. HM Rail Inspectors (HMRI) decided that the 40 year old slam door rolling stock across the 3 Train Operating Companies (TOC) had to be replaced by 2005 because of their poor safety record. The TOC owners had no certainty about who would manage South Central, South Eastern and South West Trains in the longer term and,therefore, they were not motivated to take any action.
I ran the project from OJEU launch to contract assignment and obtained SRA Board approval and marketed the procurement strategy to the key industry stakeholders. I had the joy of leading the away team in the assessment of the capability of the manufacturing sites in Derby, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan
The key project achievements were:
▪Initiated and built fresh working relationships with new stakeholders (Fiat. CAF and Hitachi) and strengthened existing relationships with stakeholders (financiers and other manufacturers).
▪Successfully persuaded the 3 TOCs to place orders for replacement of the 40 year old, slam door rolling stock to comply with the HMRI Railway Safety Regulations in a timely manner.
How did you become involved in the transport industry?
By chance. Immediately prior to working in transport I downsized a housing business unit for 65 to 6, making 59 roles redundant, including my own. I took an interim project manager role with the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF) and when they found out that I completed the downsizing exercise without strike action being called for or taken by Unison, they gave me the Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE) Programme Manager role.
I started by assessing the attributes of service quality that Merseytravel wanted to protect and safeguard. I provided leadership and direction to the team of consultants (Coopers & Lybrand – 21 consultants) to benchmark service quality for those attributes at pre-privatisation levels, for the Merseyrail Electrics franchise before rolling it out across the other 6 Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs). This also involved marketing the regime to the other 6 PTEs in the regional areas and leading the customisation of the SQUIRE for the other 6 PTEs. As soon as this interim role finished I was asked to develop the business case for OPRAF for the Thameslink project and I never looked back.
What do you like about working in transport?
I love working in the transport sector as it gives the opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives. My experience has been that, whether I am leading a project, carrying out commercial negotiations or leading teams of people, the result is new train services, better contract terms and, therefore, “value-for-money” for the taxpayer and the net effect is that the passenger experience is greatly enhanced.
How did you get to join Women in Transport?
A well respected senior male colleague suggested that I should get in touch with Women in Transport and see how I could get involved. I attended their AGM in March 2019 and signed up as a member. A month later I went on a visit organised by the network to London Underground’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and was amazed by the insight offered by the visit. An opportunity arose last month for me to take on the board position of Volunteer Engagement Lead with Women in Transport and I leapt at the chance to become more involved with such a brilliant organisation.
What is your role at Women in Transport?
My role is to fully engage with our volunteers and determine the skills they have to offer and the skills they would like to build during their association with Women in Transport. A key part of the assessment is determining the time volunteers have available as it is important to ensure that no one feels overwhelmed with any tasks assigned to them. Then I liaise closely with the board members to ascertain the when, how, where, who of the work streams that volunteers will be assigned to. I then finalise details with volunteers and subsequent discussions take place to ensure that all is well.
What are you most proud of?
The difference that I have made to the thousands of students I have taught in the last 9 years. I am proud of the students who, because of their willingness to listen, now know how to project their voices confidently. I am also immensely proud to have been able to show the next generation that, if they are hungry enough, determined enough and willing to persevere when things seem impossible, they can achieve more than they ever imagined possible!
When I was out shopping an ex-student came up to me and said “Hi Miss, I am still doing what you said, I get up every day and decide that I’m going to be the best I can be.” I was deeply moved to hear that.
Finally I am proud of my own children. My daughter is a wonderful, talented, resilient and resourceful person who works extremely hard balancing the needs of clients and university assignments as part of her Business Management Apprenticeship degree and she has a fantastic work ethic. My son has just finished 26 GCSE exam papers and has been selected to represent Surrey at the English Schools National competition, for the third consecutive year in the 200m event. They are really lovely individuals and they both make me extremely proud and humble to say that I am their mum!
What would your advice be to employers about recruiting more women into Transport?
I believe that, in order to address the gender pay gap issue and the lack of female, diverse talent in transport, a different approach is needed. “If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we always got.” That position is obviously not sustainable going forward. I think it is time for employers to start looking at the people behind the CV - ‘the Who'.
Women sometimes take time out of industry to care for children or elderly parents and to deal with family issues. When these women want to return to industry they find it incredibly difficult because artificial barriers are put up and hiring managers make subjective judgements about the industry gaps in their CVs. So in summary my advice is:
Ask questions about why the industry gaps are there, don’t make assumptions
Look at the full breadth of what the person has to offer, determine 'The Who' behind the CV.
Actively look for the transferable skills the person has
Speak to the person before dismissing their skills as irrelevant
How should we encourage young people to pursue a career in transport?
I believe we should be pursuing a number of initiatives to help young people make connections between where they are currently in school to where they could be in transport, some of my ideas are:
Companies allowing Year 10 and 11 students to carry out work placements in companies involved in the transport sector
Organising competitions to win the opportunity to shadow leaders in transport
An annual “bring a child to work” day for employees in the transport sector. We could then 'borrow' a child for the day from a friend, family member or neighbour and start to show them the opportunities for adding value in transport.
Summer transport clubs (similar to kids' football and sports clubs), to give children a glimpse of what working in the transport sector could be like
An accumulator, so that doing a certain number of clubs could give students points towards a week’s summer internship, for older students