Hannah’s route into rail

Hannah heads up our super creative communications team. Her route into the rail could be considered unconventional. But we feel it’s just right. Her diverse experience brings a different perspective that helps us shape new ideas that drive us forward.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
“For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a palaeontologist. But it’s fair to say I don’t have the patience to dig up a plesiosaur with a teaspoon.”

How did you get into rail?
“I was running the events programme for a think tank in Westminster when I got talking to an old friend during the gruelling political party conference season. He recommended I apply for a new role at Network Rail. I told him rail sounded excruciatingly dull, but I’d have a look. A short minute after opening the JD and seeing the CGI of the new Kings Cross station — which was to be my baby for the next three years — I was hooked."

What do you do in rail?
“I lead communications programmes for major infrastructure projects. Communication works as the funnelling point for information and opinion going into and out of the organisation to a huge range of stakeholders including our own teams, so we know what’s happening on the ground and can inform — and sometimes influence — how people understand the project. Of course that includes internal audiences too. Every day is different and I’m so proud of our team and our partners for the work they do.”

Who’s inspired you most in your career so far?
“I’m a magpie for advice and inspiration, picking bits from as wide a range of sources as I can find. In most recent years, I’ve worked with Angie Doll — Managing Director at Southern Railway and Gatwick Express — as my mentor. She’s an incredible woman who showed me what it looks like to hold your head up and define your own success.”

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How can we attract more women to the industry?

“Caroline Criado Perez amazing book “Invisible Women” talks in-depth about how the physical world is not designed for women. The weight and hand-grip size of tools or the shape of PPE, exclude most women outright. It’s nonsensical — PPE doesn’t grow organically: it’s a made product and can be made to fit more people. This has significant knock-on impacts: a well-worn career path for ambitious people is to come up “through the tools” – starting on-site and being sponsored through project management into more senior roles.

If the worksite is not available to most women, those roles aren’t either. This is a startlingly common problem: in 2019 the first all-female spacewalk was cancelled, with NASA citing lack of spacesuits in the right size. The mind boggles. Men are not the default human: women are 50.59 % of the population — the world of work needs to be physically comfortable for everyone.”

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