Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day

07 Mar 2016

To help celebrate International Women's Day, First TransPennine Express (FTPE), is putting a spotlight on a few of our outstanding female colleagues.

Name: Tara O'Toole

Job description: FTPE On-Board Service Manager

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What does your role involve?

I manage the Manchester Piccadilly Conductors. This involves looking after their welfare, training and assessments, absence management, investigations/ corrective measures and ensuring that all company polices are adhered to.

What other positions have you held with TPE?

I started as a Conductor with TPE and then became a Conductor minder, Conductor Instructor, On-Board Service Manager Liverpool + On-Board Service Manager Manchester Piccadilly.

What do you most enjoy about your position?

The most enjoyable part of my position is dealing with the conductors. We are lucky at Manchester Piccadilly to have a wide variety of personalities who make you smile each day. I also love the variety of challenges which means that everyday is different and you are never quite sure what the day will bring.

Why did you want to enter the rail industry?

I was previously working as a driving instructor and missed working within a team environment. When I saw the advertisement for a conductor I just thought that the job description sounded interesting and I was ready for a new challenge in my life. I was interested in the position as it was a customer service/safety position and I wanted a mixture

What is it like working in a male dominated industry- do you find it challenging?

Its not my opinion that I work in a male dominated industry, yes there are more men in the industry but I have always felt that I've been treated as an individual, not as a female. It's about the person not their gender.

Why do you think rail is still dominated by men?

I think that at FTPE we have a good mixture of men and women, including plenty of senior positions held by women. We also have women working in all positions and I can't think of a department within the business which hasn't.

What advice would you give to other women wanting to join the rail industry?

I would say that there isn't another environment like it, if they want to advance their skills and learn technical/safety knowledge. I would also encourage them to make sure that they fully embrace the experience.

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Name: Gail Torrance

Job Title: Driver Manager

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What does your role involve?

Day to day train crew depot management, performance, management of delays and late running trains, compiling rosters, investigating operational incidents, making sure staff and equipment meet safety standards, building good relationships with drivers

What other positions have you held with TPE?

I began working in the rail industry as a FirstGroup Rail Operations graduate in 2010, and moved to FTPE in 2011 for graduate training. I became a Driver Manager at FTPE in July 2012.

What do you most enjoy about your position?

The two things that I enjoy the most are the people- I work with a fantastic group of people and I have a great group of drivers to look after, and secondly I enjoy the challenges. I like taking on new projects, dealing with unexpected situations and resolving driver issues, such as roster problems or personal problems.

Why did you want to enter the rail industry?

When I was applying for graduate scheme at the end of university, it was the tail end of the recession and competition for graduate schemes was extremely high. I applied for over 40 gradate positions but they all had one thing in common, they were jobs that I had researched and realised that I would never be bored in them. I didn’t want a job where I was sat in front of a computer all day, inputting numbers and the rail industry was definitely a place where that wouldn’t be the case. I saw the rail industry as a sector both constantly growing and changing where new opportunities would arise all the time. I never been any sort of trainspotter I just thought the rail industry would be an exciting place to work.

What is it like working in a male dominated industry- do you find it challenging?

Currently I am the only female driver manager in TPE and all of the train drivers I manage are male, so I am at the far end of the male dominated scale. However I don’t find working in a male dominated industry challenging, it is the job itself that I find challenging. When I went in to the graduate scheme people told me that the railway was sexist, that I would have huge issues being a female but I haven’t encountered that at all. The main challenge that I have had from other staff has been about my level of experience, not the fact that I am female. So I deal with that challenge by knowing my job inside out, having an in depth knowledge of the standards and doing what ever I can to support my drivers.

Why do you think rail is still dominated by men?

I think women see the rail industry as too big, too bad and too ugly. When women look for a job they look for a company which is people driven without realising without people the railway just wouldn’t run. My job includes a broad range of responsibilities, but 90 per cent are people based.

We are in a chicken and an egg scenario, because there aren’t a lot of women in the rail industry, women don’t apply. I think that as an industry we need to do more to encourage female recruitment. I actually read an article recently by a well-known railway organisation about problems recruiting good driver managers. The article talks about creating the right candidate pool, improving the selection process and succession planning but there is nothing about increasing the level of gender diversity. There are more females in the industry today than 20 years ago, but there is still so much more as an industry we can do to keep those numbers climbing.

What advice would you give to other women wanting to join the rail industry?

Women have a huge amount of skills and qualities to bring to the rail industry. I would tell any women entering the rail industry to not be afraid to bring her feminine skills, her supportive nurturing empathetic qualities and use all of these to her advantage. Roles within the rail industry require skills such as assertiveness and independence which women entering the railway will naturally develop overtime. I haven’t met any women in the industry who have felt the need to become ‘one of the boys’ to succeed, as in reality, the opposite is true. Women in rail bring skills and qualities which aren’t necessarily superior to their male counterparts but actually compliment them. I would tell any women going into a male dominated part of the railway to support the men that you work with and ensure that they know that you are on their side, that you have got their back and that they can count on you. Don’t be afraid to grab any opportunity that is in front of you, you will be amazed by what you can achieve.

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What is FTPE doing to help encourage more women into the rail industry?

First TransPennine Express Interim Managing Director Liz Collins said:

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“Women bring a different dimension to the workplace, and as an industry we need to be promoting not only the positive influences women can bring, but also the opportunities the rail sector has for women, whilst making them aware of what it involves. As a business we are always looking for new ways to increase the diversity of our staff and help to encourage more women into the rail industry. Currently, one third of our staff at a management level is female, while at the executive level more than 40% of positions are held by women. I’m encouraged by these numbers, but I know there is still more we can do to as a company to increase these figures and to boost female numbers in other levels of the organisation. At FTPE, to help make roles more attractive to women, we currently offer flexible working hours and we are looking at ways to help women transition back into roles following maternity leave. We have launched a ‘Women in Rail’ group within the business, to help support our female colleagues and provide a networking opportunity. I believe we are making progress and by having a high number of females in management and executive roles we will continue to promote diversity and encourage more women into not just a job in rail, but a career.”

 

 

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