“There’s no reason why women can’t do the same jobs as men. I’ll quite happily jump down on a site and help dig and relay a track.”
The only female Site Manager for Network Rail at London Euston station, Amanda Barrow need not get involved with the physical side of the rail sector. “It doesn’t bother me though,” she says. “I like getting out there and getting into the mix of it to get works delivered. It helps me understand what actually takes place, something you can’t get from an office.”
Now overseeing refurbishment works at the station, Amanda began her career with Network Rail over 20 years ago. She began within IT as an Assistant Implementation Manager working on route-based projects, making sure whatever new software they were implementing had the right support structure behind it moving forwards.
Her next role at Network Rail arguably lay the foundations for the ‘getting involved’ attitude that Amanda adopts in her current role. She found herself moving out of IT to a role where she spent a lot of time onsite, understanding what information employees didn’t have and how they could fix that in order to better streamline the proccesses. “Being on site was critical to understanding what was required of me.”
After a very short absence from Network Rail, she returned to IT and then finally Works Delivery, currently delivering the refurbishment of all of the public conveniences at London Euston. It’s a two phase project – delivering front end upgrades first and then putting an intelligent automation infrastructure in behind it. “I’m acting as principal site manager for Network Rail, managing a third party framework contractor with 14 other resources sitting under that.”
For someone who works in the rail industry, it’s perhaps a surprise that Amanda didn’t learn anything about engineering at school. “I fell into this job when I came out working on routes. One of the first projects I delivered was a platform refurbishment at Hemel Hempstead. It was a 16 week programme, and through working with senior stakeholders and all of our operating companies it was delivered early and in-budget.”
“I wish I’d had an engineering background from school though. I think I would have developed my career more quickly than I have now. Enticing young females into the industry is incredibly important.”
As for how she finds working as a woman in what is a male-dominated industry: “All of the contractors and Network Rail staff I work with embrace the fact that I’m a woman and teach me a lot. And besides, I’m not one of these site managers that just walk up and down and watch what they’re doing. I want to know what they’re doing, judge risks and then see if there are other ways it could be done. They respect that.”
“I’d definitely recommend a career in engineering for any woman. It’s rewarding, fun and my team make it all worthwhile. I might be in the position of making the decisions but it’s the team who deliver the works, and that’s what matters.”
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