Interview with Helen Kellaway

Lead Systems Engineer at Siemens Rail Automation

What does your role consist of and what is a typical day for you?

I work in Research and Development, developing Control Centre products for metro and mainline railways. I write product requirements, which describe what it is that a product is required to do. Therefore I need to understand what the users need it to do. For instance, we may need to understand how a signaller interacts with the control centre. One way of doing this is by talking to signallers in order to understand what they need from the system and then we would document those requirements in a methodical way so that software and hardware developers can use them to build the control centre products. I also peer review others’ work, talk to different product development teams and design teams about what they are working on and how that fits in with what I’m doing.  Additionally I answer questions on product functionality of the control centre or operational scenarios if required.

What is it about the rail industry that you love?

It’s one of those places where you never stop learning. There are so many perspectives to understand and opportunities for you to improve yourself: you could be working in one department doing one thing, but there are always opportunities to do something else. There’s always something new to learn about. I also like the network of friends you make – it’s like a big family

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

The main thing was lack of self-belief. It’s an odd thing because, I thought it would be the academic learning, given that I work in engineering, but it’s not.

How do you balance home and work life and what advice would you give to other women?

First, work out what you want. Turn off the TV and stop going on Facebook – read more books instead. Get organized, make a list of what you want, make them happen. Believe in yourself.

 

Interviewed August 2016