To mark International Women’s Day this year, RFG is celebrating women in rail with a series of guest articles from Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS) which take a closer look at those championing the role and opportunities of women in the rail freight sector.
In the second article of the series, Danni Wilson, an Operations Manager at NTS, discusses the organisation’s culture and its drive to be a great place to work.
“My career started at NTS – or DRS as it was then – as a resource controller on the railway,” Danni said. “I was in the production planning and operations control department and covered rosters, control and nuclear control. I loved every minute of it; the work, the environment, the people. My passion for the job only grew and went on to train as a train driver in 2014. I spent six years delivering intermodal, engineering and nuclear services.”
Danni’s drive and commitment saw her promoted to Operations Manager, three years ago, where she manages capability and competence, traincrew, new business and general operations.
“I would be lying if I said it was all plain sailing, because like any job there are challenges,” Danni added. “The demands of decision making can be intense at times and managing a workforce poses the obvious people-related issues. Working in rail also means working to tight deadlines and high expectations.
“But I truly love the challenge of my job and working in rail generally – particularly when it comes to competency, technical advice from the ground and I love developing and writing investigation reports. There’s been no limit to the support I’ve been given at NTS from the day I started,” Danni added. “Even now, I’m working towards a foundation degree in operational management.
“NTS has a range of talent, progression and development opportunities and, importantly, for women in the sector too. It’s so important to attract and retain a diverse workforce and women are a vital factor in successful organisations – especially rail. A diverse workforce means diverse thinking and more effective operations.”
Danni has been able to develop her skills and expertise through the likes of a Women’s Leadership Programme, an NDA group-wide scheme designed to develop talent and leadership for female employees. The NTS mentoring programme, open to all employees, has also been a key factor for Danni in helping her to develop and grow professionally. Her mentor, Commercial Director Ciara Middlehurst, has worked with her for the last 12 months and has really helped her develop professionally and mentality, as well as opening up other areas of the business to her.
“Having a mentor has been invaluable for me,” Danni said. “Especially as Ciara is from a different function to mine so she’s able to bring her experiences of a commercial background to help me develop in my operational role. I’m learning as much as I can from her and it’s also great to have her as a sounding board if and when I need it.
“I think having that women-to-women engagement and support has been key for me. Being a woman in rail means being a minority but we’re lucky that we work within an organisation that continually drives for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. As a result, we’re seeing more and more female apprentices, trainees and recruits join the organisation.
“My experience as a woman in the rail industry has always been a positive one – I’ve always felt very much accepted and part of the team. I don’t feel gender has ever been against me but a challenge with being a woman is having the extra work to earn respect in a role.
“NTS’s workplace culture is clear and focused on ensuring it’s a positive, supportive and inclusive environment. Our organisational principles are Freedom, Helpfulness and Drive and this ethos helps promote a positive work culture with regards EDI and gender equality that is also focused on collaboration and well-being. In other words, we’re all committed to creating an environment where everyone can perform to the best of their ability to get the best possible result.”
By Danni Wilson, Operations Manager, NTS