Joined Stagecoach in: 1985
Role: Operations Director
Location: West Ham
What attracted you to a career in the bus industry?
I applied for the London Buses Junior Trainee programme on the advice of my father when I was 16 and still at school. When I first started the programme, I was also working part time in retail. I very nearly left the programme to continue working there, as they offered me a Manager’s job!
What did you start off doing in the industry? Outline your roles since you started.
After completing the Junior Trainee programme, I became a conductor at both Clapton and Ash Grove garages, as I was too young to be a bus driver (back then you had to be 21). I went on to broaden my career working in both the HR and Recruitment departments for several years. After having my second daughter in 1997, I moved into a Garage Supervisor’s role in Leyton Garage, which meant that I now got to work alongside our frontline people. I successfully completed the Staff Development Programme, which is when my career developed and I became a Garage Manager working at various different locations. In 2011 I was appointed Operations Director, my current role, where I’m responsible for 10 garages, 3,500 drivers, support staff and a team of Garage Managers. I also acquired my PCV licence and have driven a bus, so I can fully appreciate the responsible job a bus driver has!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Definitely the people. I love to be amongst the front line staff in a garage; the environment and atmosphere is something I enjoy being a part of. We have lots of good people in this business that we care about. They are committed to our company and really want to make a difference. To work with them as part of a team and make a difference every day is really rewarding.
What has surprised you most about working here for Stagecoach London?
Stagecoach allows you to open doors and have a career. If you apply yourself and want to progress, then there is the opportunity to do so. You are supported by your managers and colleagues and, where possible, given the necessary experience to work your way up.
Shift work can be seen to have many disadvantages but in my experience it was extremely useful, especially with a young family. I found that I had a lot more quality time with my children, as I would be off whilst others were at work. Shifts could be swapped so that I could attend school plays or other important appointments with her children. If you have a good support network around you, it can work to everyone’s advantage.
What are the top three tips that you’d give to anyone thinking of applying to be a bus driver at Stagecoach London?
Please tell us about your experience of being a woman working in the sector?
When I first started in this male-dominated industry it was extremely daunting, and I felt quiet intimidated. It was rare to see another female in the garage so it was challenging for me and my colleagues. Thankfully things have now changed. The number of women in the industry is still relatively small but we have, over the years, been working to address this using a variety of recruitment campaigns pushing for women to join us. We offer part time contracts for new recruits and can, to a point, offer some flexibility which is more appealing to people, especially women. Along with a greater understanding of what is acceptable and people understanding boundaries, this means that women are a very necessary and important part of our industry.
Did you think of doing a different job before you joined us?
I always wanted to be an air hostess, as I thought it was a glamorous job when I was younger. The bus industry isn’t promoted as being a glam one – but it can be!