Interview with Suzanne Patterson

West Anglia HR Business Partner at London Overground Rail Operations Ltd

How long have you been in the rail industry and what inspired you to join the rail sector?

I’ve been in the rail industry for eight years now. I was attracted to the company first and foremost. I’m a very proud Londoner and what London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) was doing was hugely important for London. Rail just seems such a critical area to be involved in. When I look at our services and what LOROL has done I feel very proud.

 

My role initially was the recruitment of a huge number of train drivers and front line customer service staff which was exciting and interesting.

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

The biggest challenge was changing career. I moved from being a regional manager for a chain of health and fitness clubs, so dealing with sales, operations, customer service to HR. That was tough and I had to learn fast. I put myself through some training and worked some long hours to help myself. I took a big salary cut too, but it was worth it to move into the new career. HR is fascinating, people are interesting and the dynamics of work relationships are fascinating.

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?

The challenge is that people don’t immediately think of the rail industry as offering a great career, but it really can. It’s about taking every opportunity to make people aware of this, through recruitment, external communications and getting the word out in schools and the local communities

What advice would you give to young women working in rail?

It’s an exciting area with great opportunities. With a positive, can do attitude there are so many different roles within the rail industry. Work hard, prove yourself and you will progress.

 

Interviewed August 2016