Interview with Maggie Simpson

Executive Director at Rail Freight Group

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

There is no typical day, which is one of the things I love. Running a trade association means that I spend time with businesses, finding out about what they do and what the railway means to them. This could be one on one or at our many dinners, meetings or conferences. Another part of my job is promoting the rail freight sector to the government so this takes me to Network Rail, DfT, ORR and other railway forums, where I help make the case for measures to support more rail freight.

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

I have been lucky that Rail Freight Group is so flexible. It means that I can be there for my family after school some days in the week and I can work around other events too. Of course, this means I occasionally have to work on my days off but that is a fair balance for the flexibility. I don’t think anyone should ever feel ashamed about flexible working, or balancing work and family, and the more open you can be, the more people will understand – and perhaps copy your example.

Has anyone inspired you during your career?

I’ve been lucky to have some fantastically supportive bosses, male and female, who have given me space to operate, and to develop.  Tony Berkeley, RFG Chairman, has supported me a great deal, and is always available for a bit of advice, or a nudge, on difficult issues.  And there are some great people on the RFG Board, and in our membership too, who have advised and helped me in my current role.

What do you see as the challenges to attracting more women into rail and what do you think could be done to make a difference?

We have to make the railways an attractive place to work for everyone.  The classic image of the ‘lifetime railway man’ has probably had its day and we have to appeal to a generation who were born with the internet!  And it’s not just the railways facing this challenge – freight and logistics generally has exactly the same difficulty attracting young people and female employees.

 

Interviewed August 2016