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WW2 Female Conductor

Celebrating Rail Careers Week

HerCanberra Team

Rail Careers Week is a national initiative from the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) to promote awareness and the diversity of career opportunities in rail.

While the industry is still male dominated – women make up only 14% of the industry’s workforce – it’s not anti-female, and actively encourages women to join the industry.

Women have been an integral part of Australian rail and tramways since WW2, when labour shortages required women to join the workforce in traditionally male dominated roles. While they weren’t allowed to drive trams, most became conductors and were paid a full wage. At the end of the war, many kept working and now women are part of every aspect of the industry, from mechanical engineering to risk management. And yes, they’re now allowed to drive!

Capital Metro Agency (CMA) is just one of the many national members of ARA, and boasts an impressive team of national and international experts from all areas of infrastructure.

Emma Thomas leads the agency as Project Director. Emma has an extensive infrastructure background working in world class companies including Boeing. Prior to joining the CMA, Emma was the State Rail Commissioner for South Australia, the Deputy Chief Executive of Public Transport and worked for the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. Emma has a passion for light rail, and has seen first-hand how it can revitalise cities.

Katrina Giudice and Emma Thomas. Image: Capital Metro Agency

Katrina Giudice and Emma Thomas. Image: Capital Metro Agency

“Rail is such an enormous and growing industry worldwide. There are so many opportunities for careers in almost any kind of study area. With major rail projects being delivered in almost every state and territory in Australia, the challenge is to find people to work within those projects,” says Emma.

Katrina Giudice is a Transport and Infrastructure Executive who came to Canberra fresh off the successful Gold Coast and Sydney light rail projects. She specialises in planning and delivery, with a focus on customer experience. Katrina has a background of project management, business analysis and stakeholder management, all highly transferrable and incredibly desirable talents in infrastructure.

“People, particularly women, don’t consider the rail industry as an option, but infrastructure is the perfect place for people with skills in planning and analysis with a customer focus. Rather than falling into the industry, as most do, it should be the first port of call for anyone with an interest in making public transport more usable for everyone,” says Katrina.

Rail careers don’t just centre on engineering, planning and manufacturing. Rail also needs professionals in the areas of accounts, administration, community education and communications. Like any industry, rail need staff to promote their services (both existing and not yet built), handle media liaison and stakeholder management, and run community education programs. All of these responsibilities provide opportunities to liaise with diverse stakeholders, from political members to tram drivers.

Mel Taylor is the CMA’s Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement. Mel has worked across a range of portfolios, and has extensive experience in the public transport and infrastructure sectors including rail.

“I’ve always been attracted to organisations that are client centred, have a strong positive culture and, that are creative and challenging. I like that the work I do can make a difference. I also like working with people who are passionate about what they do and who can challenge me to always do better,” says Mel.

Mel Taylor. Image: Capital Metro Agency

Mel Taylor. Image: Capital Metro Agency

Mel’s comments aren’t unusual insofar as enjoying the work environment: both male and female staff at Queensland Rail rated their workplace 4 out of 5 for employee satisfaction, citing a productive and busy atmosphere; multidisciplinary opportunities and up-skilling; a sense of achievement in providing a service to the community; and, of course, paramount work and safety standards which all rail companies pride themselves on.

As the Canberra light rail project moves into the delivery phase in 2016, Canberra will have a high demand for rail workers in all areas – maybe it’s time to consider a career in rail…

To find out more about joining the industry, visit the ARA website or participate in our Facebook Forum with Project Director Emma Thomas on Tuesday 22 September from 2 to 2.30pm.

Feature image of a WW2 Rail Conductor. Credit: State Library of Victoria

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