Interview with Margaret Kay

Managing Director at Supertram

Why did you go back to rail?

One of the things I very quickly realised when I joined London Underground, and then when I went back into Stagecoach Rail, is that the rail industry offers so many opportunities. The fact is, once you get into the industry, you can choose whichever career path you want to. I was always in human resources until I took on the MD role with Supertram. However, even within that one profession, the door was open to pursue whichever path I wanted to within HR. I don’t think you can get such a breadth of experience, in my opinion, in any industry other than rail.

How do you balance home and work life, and do you have any advice?

A work life balance is important for everyone. Over the years there’s been a tendency to look at this from a female point of view. However, I’ve always been really keen to talk to people wherever they fit in the organisation, to see how their work life balance would work. When I recruit someone, male or female, I look at the job and what that entails. It’s important that people can align themselves to that job and feel comfortable with the effect it will or won’t have on their personal life. For example, if you have hobbies or interests which you are keen to pursue it is important that you feel that you are given the opportunity to have the right balance between your work role and those other interests.

In your opinion, what is the recipe for success?

I believe that everybody has got potential. You will always find success if you can get the best out of people. It’s about building organisations that really allow people to do their best. When I look at the successes I’ve had, it’s always been down to the people I surrounded myself with.

What do you see as the challenges to attracting more women into rail?

I know from people who have come into rail, and love it, that their original perception of it was that it’s old-fashioned, slow, not dynamic. But it’s the opposite. We also need to send the message that women are welcome, and that they do really well. At the moment, communications don’t really show the range of opportunities available and where rail could ultimately take women in their career.

 

Interviewed August 2016