How did you get into the rail industry?
I pretty much fell into the industry. After graduating from the University of Liverpool with Spanish and Business and having spent time living in Spain, I knew I had a passion for travelling. On stepping into the world of work, like any graduate, I was apprehensive about the future. Before joining the Go-Ahead Rail Graduate Scheme, I worked in operations in the mining sector which helped me gain invaluable experience and develop an array of skills which served me well when I joined the rail industry. On receiving my first location, I packed all my bags into my tiny car and made the move to London.
What do you do?
The Go-Ahead Rail Graduate Scheme consists of three, six-month placements rotating around each train operating company: GTR, London Midland and Southeastern. My first rotation was with Southeastern where I learnt the role of a station manager. The next six months was spent with GTR, gaining insight into the world of train operations including: train planning, depot visits and the driver training school. I also got to go on cab rides with train drivers and can proudly say I signalled my first train. During my time with GTR, I learnt the role of a local operations manager/ driver manager, and I quickly gained confidence in management while working on a variety of projects.
I am currently on the last six-month rotation with London Midland in Birmingham, where I am learning the role of the conductor manager, observing assessments and getting involved in performance analysis and line management duties. I am excited to see what the next couple of months brings.
What is a typical day?
There is no typical day in the rail industry, they’re all different. From my experience, there is flexibility to self-manage, which I think is great for personal development and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Each and every industry has stressful times, rail is no different. During times of disruption is when your knowledge and experience is put to the test, however there is nothing more rewarding than helping a passenger get home to their family after a long day at work.
What do you like most about the railway industry?
Being part of one big railway family. No matter what company or department you work for, everyone looks out for each other. It is a close-knit and friendly community that offers freedom to learn as well as supporting and rewarding excellence.
What would you say are the challenges facing someone in the early stages of a career in rail?
Coming into the rail Industry, there is a lot to learn. On occasions you may initially become a little lost in acronyms, processes and information. However, everyone is always available to help and answer questions. A great piece of advice I got was never be afraid to ask.
What are you most proud of to date in your career?
I am proud of what I have achieved on the Go-Ahead graduate programme so far. I have pushed myself and always looked to go the extra mile to learn and develop. I have adapted to relocating to new cities and looked for opportunities to meet different people from all sectors within the industry.
How do you think we can attract more people into rail?
I think the industry needs to showcase the different types of roles it has to offer. Rail events and campaigns at schools and universities are ways of making young people more aware of the opportunities within the industry.
Do you have any word of advice for young people considering rail as a career?
Rail is full of passionate and friendly people. The industry gives you a good grounding and offers endless career opportunities. As cliché as it sounds, it really is what you make of it! Be yourself and do not hesitate to ask questions. People are there to help and support you.
Interviewed May 2017