National Express West Midlands and the Midland Metro are marking the United Nation’s first Wonder Woman Day on 21 October 2016. 75 years after her first appearance in a comic, the UN is making the superhero an honorary ambassador to promote women's empowerment.
And the West Midlands bus and tram operator is joining in by celebrating some of its own Wonder Women - several new female recruits and a woman garage manager who’s been shortlisted for the prestigious UK Bus Awards.
The company has just taken on nine apprentice engineers, including two women.
Amy Manning is from Kings Norton. She says:
“I’ve been trying for over two years to get into engineering, so it’s great to be starting my apprenticeship. So far, I’ve loved it.
“At first, I was struggling to get the wheels off the vehicles - they’re so huge! But I’ve got the knack now and I can change all four tyres on a bus in 20 minutes.
“It’s a really interesting time to be a bus engineer - there’s so much new technology to explore as the vehicles get greener. The old diesel engines are gradually being replaced by things like hybrids and fully electric buses.”
National Express West Midlands’ Chief Operating Officer, Paul Thomas, says:
“Apprenticeships are a really important part of our engineering team development. They help us create a future generation of young engineers who can gain access to the new skills and experience we need to keep our modern fleet of buses safe, reliable and roadworthy in the decades ahead.”
Midland Metro has recently taken on several female tram drivers. Trainee drivers start on a realistic computer simulator before driving trams on training tracks at the Midland Metro depot at Wednesbury. They then drive out on the real track with a trainer, before they are assessed as being able to “fly solo”.
Sylwia Bownik is from Wolverhampton and recently completed her driver training. And Nicola Buckley from Dudley is just about to start. Cath Wood, from Wednesbury, has been driving trams for 11 years and represented the UK at the European Tram Driver of the Year competition in April this year.
National Express West Midlands has also just taken on three graduate trainees in the bus division.
• Katie McGrath lives in Stourbridge and got her degree from the University of Birmingham.
• Dharel Patel is from Perry Barr and did a Masters in Applied and Petroleum Micropaleontology at the University of Birmingham.
• Alexandra Joy went to Northumbria University and is now working at National Express’ Wolverhampton garage.
National Express takes on graduates in most of the transport operations it runs all over the world. Twice a year, all the company’s graduates get together to share their learning and support each other in its industry-leading Graduate Network events.
Stephanie Maher has been shortlisted in the category Young Bus Manager of the Year in this year’s UK Bus Awards. She joined National Express West Midlands in 2011 as a graduate trainee and now manages over 500 staff and nearly 200 buses at the busy Wolverhampton garage. She also represents the company at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
“Girls often don’t think about following a career in the transport industry. But I’ve found it really rewarding. Every day is different, and I love the people.”
National Express West Midlands HR Director Madi Pilgrim said:
“There are so many Wonder Women at National Express who do a great job, day in and day out - drivers, conductors, cleaners, office staff and travel shop staff. We’re hoping these superheroes will inspire a generation of girls to think about getting into the transport industry.”
National Express is always looking for more Wonder Women (and men!) to join their team of bus drivers, tram drivers, engineers, office staff, managers and tram conductors. For more information on jobs available, or to apply, please visit http://www.yournxjob.co.uk
Published 19th October 2016