Sarah – Plant Operations Scheme Supervisor
Tell us a little about your role at TRS:
I’ve worked for TRS for 3 ½ years, and as a POS Supervisor I’m responsible for supervising the on-track plant machine operators and crane controllers. This can range from managing 1 to 8 machines, so a team of 2 to 16 workers, depending on the size of the job. Currently I’m working mostly on the electrification project between Bristol and Newport.
Why did you choose to work in the rail industry?
It wasn’t an obvious choice. My background is in media and I used to take photos of heavy plant working on the railway whilst working as a camera assistant. But I also had a good understanding of the heavy plant industry, as my family have very strong ties in engineering and the road-rail plant business, so when this job arose I jumped at the opportunity to try something a bit different.
As engineering shifts are mostly at the weekend and offer flexible working, I can still hold down two jobs. My experiences as a camera assistant and as a POS Supervisor also have some similarities – in both I manage and coordinate people and liaise with the client to ensure the project goes smoothly.
What do you like about your role?
I love my job! I like the sense of achievement when a project goes well. I also get to explore interesting parts of the railway e.g tunnels and viaducts etc, that the public never get to see. I find it liberating being able to walk around in the middle of the night on empty railway lines knowing I’m completely safe.
What female attributes help you in your role?
In my job you need to be good at problem solving, communication, logistics, and working to deadlines. The ability to stay calm under pressure, politeness and a smile usually helps.
Who is the biggest influence in your life?
My mum. She’s amazing and has always worked seven days a week running her own business, making it clear I can achieve anything I set my mind to, with enough hard work.
Why do you think it’s important to recognise / celebrate Women in Engineering?
Women can achieve anything. Just because this is a male dominated industry doesn’t mean women can’t do well or sometimes better. I have always worked in male dominated roles. When I first started on the railways it was rare to see other women on the job – especially on the night-shift. But today I’m pleased it’s becoming a more common sight. The men I work with are very respectful to me and sometimes I actually think they’re nicer to me than they would be to a guy doing the same job!