To be honest, after I graduated I didn’t consider the rail sector as a career option as I knew very little about it. I was passionate about using my degree to make a difference in reducing environmental impacts in construction. I was introduced to rail after colleagues who were working on a project associated with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link asked me to support them to manage construction noise issues. I have been in the industry ever since. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else!
Firstly, I love the wide range of people I work with who come from a vast variety of disciplines, such as designers, buyers, engineers, project managers and operations directors. I am always learning from their knowledge and experience of the rail industry. Secondly, I love the diverse nature of rail projects and the challenges of dealing with a wide range of issues. I can be working in both rural and urban locations which mean that at any one time I could be dealing with a broad range of environmental issues, from reducing noise impacts to local residents through to protecting wildlife and working with local communities to create social opportunities. I am also now part of the Senior Management Team for the Operations Director I work for and am involved in strategic health and safety culture change which is very exciting.
My advice would be to always have the confidence to go for the opportunities that come your way. It might mean stepping out of your comfort zone – but it will be worth it. When I have done this it has helped me develop my skills and increased my confidence. Also, be yourself – don’t feel you have to be ‘one of the boys’ to fit in. Your individual skills and qualities as a women bring another dimension to the team and this diversity helps consider issues in a more holistic way. It is possible for women to do great things in the rail industry, to enjoy a satisfying and challenging career in which there are great opportunities for continuous professional development and promotion, and where you can make a real difference.
Interviewed August 2016