What has been your career journey so far?
Papergirl, kitchen assistant, waitress, bar worker, junior secretary, secretary, personal assistant, Mother (carer, mediator, cleaner, cook, bottle washer, decorator, gardener, etc, etc) Teaching Assistant and now, Customer Service Assistant.
Please also tell us about your background?
Born in the High Peak, parents took on a Restaurant when I was 9, worked within the family business evenings and weekends became a secretary, still continuing to work in the family business; socialised plenty; met my husband, purchased a home, moved to Stockport, had two children, got married, brought up my family whilst working as a Teaching Assistant, moved on to Network Rail. Here is where I intend to stay until I retire at 85!
Where do you work, what do you do?
I work as a Customer Service Assistant at Manchester Piccadilly Station. I am part of the Mobility Assistance team who, in essence, assist passengers to and from and on and off trains. In addition, we give out train information, attend First Aid incidents, liaise with TOC representatives, train, monitor and mentor new employees.
What factors did you consider when joining the railway industry?
I knew that the Railway was where I wanted to work. Although I was ‘older’ than your usual candidate who wants to join the railway, I had taken quite some time considering the shifts and amount of working hours which would make a totally different working situation for my family and then set out applying for positions within Piccadilly. I love the bustle of the place, never having two days the same is exactly how I like to work and for me it meant I could use my interpersonal skills and have variety within my work. It means I get great satisfaction out of my work in many ways, but mainly by making a positive difference to many peoples day.
What in rail are you passionate about?
I am passionate about delivering outstanding Customer Service to all by assisting everyone who needs help, safely and hopefully on time, by being caring, understanding needs, listening, a willing first aider, and always having a welcoming and approachable attitude.
What motivates you to put forward your greatest effort?
I am regularly humbled by people and reflect frequently how fortunate I am to be able to carry out my duties to the best of my ability – in conclusion; if I can make even the smallest bit of a positive difference to any one persons’ day, then that makes me a happy lady.
What aspects of the job do you (or your journey to date did you) find the most challenging/rewarding and why?
I love the variety of my job: probably the most challenging would be dealing with disgruntled customers who have enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages and then come to the station expecting services to still be running way into the early hours only to find they are not; sometimes customers can become argumentative or aggressive when information they do not want to hear is passed on to them; they are never wrong, but of course I tell them in the nicest possible way.
What has been your biggest success to date and what contributed to that success?
Being part of a team who carried out CPR on a passenger who had stopped breathing (three times in total); as a team, we gave CPR and used the defibrillator to start the heart and enable breathing once again. After the ambulance service took over, they reported back to us to inform us the person had made a full recovery and had been released from hospital; a positive feeling was felt throughout the whole team.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time, how would you like your career to progress?
At present, I absolutely love my role so do not intend to progress elsewhere for now. However, to improve and develop, I’d like to continue to train, assess and guide others around the station and further my own knowledge by continuing to ‘learn something new’ almost every day.
How do you balance home and work life? What advice would you give to other women?
The balance of home and work life can be, at times hard … other times, it’s not so bad, it just depends on the shift!
What is it about the industry that you love? (what do you find most rewarding in your career?)
I love the whole of the railway station industry, I feel like the station is definitely my second home; I love the diverse aspect of the Station community, the people I work with and the fact that no day is the same. I find making a positive difference to a persons’ day most rewarding; that to me, gives me great satisfaction.
What would you say is the achievement you are most proud of?
Helping saving a life (both by CPR and using my Samaritans Training skills).
In your career, what is the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Threats of many kinds.
Has anyone inspired you during your career (and, if so who and why?) Do you have a role model and, if so, who and why?
Stuart Morgan was my role model (within my Mobility role). Early on in my employment he was the person I worked towards being; knowledgeable, keen, dependable, trustworthy; many more attributes … I am still working towards being his replacement; I’m getting there I hope! Inspiring ladies include; Kyla Thomas, Linda Green, Margaret Edge and Catriona Gibson, I’m sure there’s more too.
In your opinion, what is the recipe for success – for a team, career, or otherwise?
Positive mental attitude and hoping your colleagues have the same, the majority of my colleagues do and if for some reason they don’t, I try to give them a little of mine.
How do you think that we can attract more women to the rail industry? What do you think the rail industry could improve, should start doing, stop doing or continue to do to support/attract more women within the rail industry?
I think it depends on the job role – I think we are attracting quite a few women these days to all roles that were once male orientated; engineers, track workers, train drivers, signalwomen – just keep the good work going. Our LNW Head of Performance and Customer Relations and is a woman and she is a great advertisement for Women in Rail and for Manchester Piccadilly station; Karen Hornby.
What would be your advice to young women entering the industry?
Be assertive but kind and enjoy yourself.
What message would you have to encourage girls to join the industry?
What advice would you give to young women / other women working in rail
Interviewed January 2018