Our Gender-Balanced Fleet Team

Monday 02nd November 2020
We’re proud to be able to say our Fleet HQ Technical Team is 50/50 gender-balanced. We chatted with the female colleagues on the team to find out how they got a job in the railway and what advice they’d give to other women looking to join the industry.


Image of Stacy Thundercliffe, Fleet Technical Manager at TransPennine Express

In a few sentences tell us what your role entails.
I lead the team responsible for ensuring that all TransPennine Express trains are safe, reliable and well supported in service if defects or incidents do happen. I have a team of engineers within the Head Office function who are responsible for ensuring that trains remain safe and also constantly striving to improve performance and make improvements or enhancements to the trains. I also look after the Technical Inspector Team who support the Siemens and CAF fleets in service through providing the Maintenance Control function and Technical Riders.


How did you get into the rail industry?
Whilst at university, my then-boyfriend (but now husband) worked as a Conductor for First North Western which highlighted the rail industry as a possibility for me. When applying for Graduate schemes, FirstGroup were recruiting for Railway Engineering graduates, so I applied and was successful and my railway career began there.


Has anyone inspired you during your career?
I’ve been lucky to have worked with some great leaders during my career to date. Notably for me, my very first manager in my Saturday job whilst at college was hugely inspiring and very much encouraged all of his college staff to push themselves to do well in their careers. He was a great career advisor and sounding board who gave some excellent guidance to me in the early part of my career.


What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?
By far, the biggest achievement is the introduction of 3 brand new train fleets into TransPennine Express in quick succession during 2019. It was a hugely challenging task but seeing the trains in service now, transporting customers across the country is equally rewarding and they look fantastic!

In your opinion, what’s the recipe for success in terms of teamwork?
I believe the most important part of creating a high performing team is diversity; creating a team with different skills and strengths means that individuals complement each other which can create a very powerful team. Creating balance in a team of genders and cultures is a way of achieving this. This is why I’m very pleased that we’ve managed to create good gender diversity within the Fleet HQ Technical Team.

What advice would you give to other women in rail?
I would encourage other women in rail not to be afraid to push themselves to the next level. Increasing a level of seniority can feel a bit scary but I’ve always found that you learn very quickly by doing the job and confidence is soon built. You can be surprised by what you achieve when you throw yourself in – don’t underestimate your value and skills.


Image of Judith Calvert, Fleet Performance Engineer at TransPennine Express

In a few sentences tell us what your role entails.
As the Fleet Performance Engineer, I work with each maintainer to identify technical failures that have affected the performance of all our fleets, as part of a wider national Rail Delivery Group (RDG) programme to improve fleet reliability. Internally I work closely with the Performance Department and other operational managers to understand what happened when things went wrong and how we can avoid or lessen the impact of a similar problem in the future.

How did you get into the rail industry?
I was employed on a temporary basis for a week in March 2001 to help move a maverick Asset Engineer employed by Railtrack from one floor of Rail House in Manchester to another. Nearly 20 years later I’ve still never seen so much paperwork stored so untidily. I must have made a good impression as I was offered a permanent position, not that they had anywhere to put me. I hung around the Asset Management department for a few months, helping plan possessions and sometimes even labouring on them, until I successfully applied to be the Performance Analyst for the Royal Mail contract. I joined TransPennine Express’ Performance Team as an analyst just before the first franchise started operating in 2004 and in 2007 I managed to convince the Fleet Team that I would make an excellent Engineer. I’m finally taking a general engineering degree with the Open University and hope to move back into Asset Management in the fullness of time as a Structural Engineer.

Has anyone inspired you during your career?
A great manager once said to me (and on cups that he had printed and placed strategically around the business) “we’re all members of the Performance Team”.
 
What’s been the best piece of career advice that you’ve received to date?
“No one knows everything about the railway.” I heard this very early on from a man who had worked in the industry since the 1950s, who offered these words of comfort when I had been made to feel foolish for not knowing something. No one should be afraid to ask questions and I am lucky to work in a department where people are happy to ask for more information if they feel they need it and to provide it when asked. Pretending to understand is limiting and potentially dangerous.

What would you say to a young graduate thinking about a career in rail?
It’s not specifically for young graduates, but there’s more to the rail industry than train operating companies. Whatever your interest, experience or passion there is a company attached to the rail industry for you.


Image of Louise Woolliscroft, Fleet Engineer at TransPennine Express

In a few sentences tell us what your role entails.
I’m the Fleet Engineer for Nova 1, so any technical questions and issues for the fleet come to me. I spend most of my time working with our supplier Hitachi to ensure our trains are safe and reliable.

How did you get into the rail industry?
I wanted to get into a career within engineering that would help people in their everyday lives. London Underground has a wonderful graduate scheme so I joined them straight from University and haven’t left the rail industry since.

Has anyone inspired you during your career?
I think you learn off everyone you come into contact with, so everyone has. Each person I’ve worked with has had something different and valuable to offer.

What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?
In my previous role at Eversholt Rail, I spent a number of years as the Engineer introducing the Class 802 for GWR, getting the first into service was a big milestone.

What advice would you give to other women in rail?
Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and other people will too.

If you’re feeling inspired about a career in the rail industry and want to find out more, head over to our careers page and start your journey!

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