Interview with Alero Abbey

Area Manager, Green Park at London Underground

What does your job involve?

I am an Area Manager for a busy and complex London Underground station and responsible for leading, motivating and developing teams of staff to deliver world class customer service. My role is to ensure that we efficiently achieve financial and commercial targets within the area, through cost optimisation and exploration of commercial opportunities. I am also responsible for delivering real improvements in customer service and continuous improvement in safety, performance and staff development.

 

What is it about the rail industry that you love?

I like the fact that I get the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of people as colleagues, team members and customers. The breadth of this experience has been enriching and transcends cultural differences, beliefs and life expectations. I have met CEOs, celebrities and most importantly for me, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with people who I have been able to inspire professionally as well as holistically and convince them that they have what it takes to fulfil their potential. In doing so, I have shaped my perception of life: that there may be barriers but the “glass ceiling” is my gift to shatter!

In your career what is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

I think perception is something that many women in the rail industry have to deal with. People like to put limits on you and state “this is how far you can get”. It is important to blank out these messages and prove that women in this industry are extremely capable of pushing the limits. I have been in situations where people can’t believe when they meet me in person that I am a woman.

What do you think should be done to attract more women into rail?

It is a mostly male dominated environment still, which can put many women off considering it for a career. Women with children and families don’t necessarily think of the rail industry as an ideal job. We need to redefine how we work and dismantle the age old tradition of 9-5, face to face and embrace more innovative platforms such as web conferencing and flexi-hours, especially for operational staff.

 

Interviewed August 2016