Where do you work, what do you do?
I’m within the programme’s team here at Northern. My current role is the Programme Scheduler. This involves me developing high level plans, capturing milestones from each governed project in Northern. To provide reports and information about critical paths and slippage dates, to the directors and programme leads. I also assist project managers, scheduling and mapping some elements of their project, if necessary. I’m also actively involved in the PMO system here at Northern, ensuring project managers are using this effectively and updating their reports, risks/issues and milestones properly.
Please also tell us about your background?
I’m 23, although with my baby face I look 16. Currently reside in the very hip town of Hebden Bridge. Still living with my wonderful mum (and 2 fluffy dogs), as I save up for a deposit on a house, so hoping to be moved out at 25. I do what most 23 year olds do.
However, I’m an avid reader and TV box set binge watcher, with the occasional bike ride on a Sunday morning.
What has been your career journey so far?
Started working at the age of 16 in a café, worked my way up in 2 years to be assistant manager. I then left to go to university, where I studied Psychology for 3 years. Upon graduating, I secured an internship at university, working on many Psychology research projects. This lasted 3 months, which is when I applied for a role at Arriva Rail North as a HR Project assistant. This involved me working on 2 large projects, impacting the business. After a year, I moved into the Transformational Support Team, which is where I’m currently working.
What factors did you consider when joining the railway industry?
If I’m honest, I didn’t really think about what the railway industry could offer or how I would progress when I joined. The initial job I applied for sounded brilliant at the time, and gave me the opportunity to develop the skills I required at University and from previous experience. I’ve worked here 2 years now, and can’t believe the vast opportunities available in this industry, especially if you work hard.
What has been your biggest success to date and what contributed to that success?
When I started my role in programmes, I also started my postgraduate degree in MSc Project Management. Therefore, I worked 3 days whilst attending university full time. It was a huge challenge, trying to find the right balance between university work, programme work and making sure I saw my friends too! There were plenty of weekends where I wouldn’t see anyone, so I could get on top of my work. The last closing months of my degree was definitely the hardest part. My 15,000 word dissertation took over my life, yet I was still working at Northern making sure I can apply what I was learning in real time, to my job. I finished my master’s this September 2017 and looking back now, I’ve realised I shouldn’t underestimate what I can do. So, this has definitely contributed to the success I’ve had at Northern, allowing me to secure such a high responsible role.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time, how would you like your career to progress?
I see myself managing large projects that have an impact on the business and my colleagues. I want to progress slowly, so I’m not jumping in at the deep end and drowning, but taking the steps forward to make me a successful project and/or programme manager.
In your career, what is the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Moving from HR to Programmes, it’s a completely different department. I did feel out of my depth at first. I’ve had to learn entirely new elements to what keeps Northern running and 10 months in, I’m enjoying every minute.
What would be your advice to young women entering the industry?
To just keep working as hard as you can, I’ve not had any encounters of being held back because of my sex. If effort and motivation is there, you will be able to move up in your career quickly. Yes, there are more men in the industry, however, that’s not going to affect your career progress. In fact, many women at Northern are in a lot of high level positions. Enjoy yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Interviewed November 2017