Interview with Jane Simpson

former Chief Engineer at Network Rail

What is it about the industry that you love?

I really love the variety and the complexity. I love the idea that you can make complex simple. I also really love the fact that we leave a legacy, that’s maybe the important thing about our industry. We leave something: we make people’s lives better every day. We leave a legacy for the last and the next 150 years.

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

I’ve got two children, a husband, and parents in their late 70s. I’ve got dogs, cats, chickens, and a pony, so I have quite a full life and a busy job. It is about a balance, it’s not about work or home taking priority, it’s a balance across the page.  Certainly, don’t feel guilty.

Has anyone inspired you during your career?

Dyan Crowther, COO for GTR. One of the things she did was she forced me to think bigger. I like talking to my feet, and I hated giving presentations. But she forced me into doing that stuff, really building a profile for myself.

I’m not nervous, now, talking in front of 500 or 1000 people, but three or four years ago I absolutely would have been terrified.

What would you say is the achievement you are most proud of?

In each role you take, you should try to push yourself into trying to achieve something new and something you’re proud of. At Network Rail, I’ve made massive strides in increasing our pool of diversity in the organization.

Do you think women handle leadership roles differently to men?

I think they do, women have different thought processes, different experiences that can impact outcomes. Which I think is important.

 

Interviewed August 2016 – updated September 2017