Celebrating Women in Rail - An Interview with Susie Homan
How did you end up as the Director Rail Operations at Network Rail Consulting, Australia?
When I accepted my first job in rail, I never expected the long, varied and successful career I have experienced. I assumed it would be a short-term job until I knew what I wanted to do, little did I know that the career options were so vast, and I would still be working in rail today.
I started my career as a welcome host at my local station, helping customers catch the right train and navigate the rail system during disruptions. I became curious about how the different aspects of a rail operations coordinated together and how the whole system worked. I would ask a lot of questions of my colleagues, and I have to say people who work in rail are very willing to share their knowledge and help you learn. Many roles within the rail industry are openly advertised and everyone has the opportunity to apply, I began applying for the roles that interested me the most and my career started to grow from there.
Across my career, I’ve been lucky enough to manage mainline stations in London, introduce new railway franchises, manage timetabling teams, help implement and oversee a new light rail system, manage event delivery such as services for the Commonwealth Games, set customer experience and operations strategies, and now consult for Australian rail projects.
What insight can you share from your career?
There have been a few times in my career where I have applied for an exciting and challenging role and when I got it thought, ‘What made me think I could do this?’ However, these were the jobs that provided me with the most growth and experience. I’m quite logical, practical and happy to work with others, and I believe these traits helped me successfully deliver what was required in those challenging roles. Of course, life isn’t always plain sailing and I have needed to navigate some difficult circumstances along the way, but I have found that whilst I may not have appreciated the experience in that moment, these moments have provided a lot of personal growth and insight.
My managers and colleagues in the rail industry have been very supportive and encouraged my curiosity to understand how it all works and to keep developing my skillset, but even after 30 years I still have plenty to learn. I have found the railway is like a big family where everyone wants to see everyone do well, so the only person that was going to limit me, was me!
Do you have any advice for someone looking to join the rail industry?
There are so many career options so come with an open mind, be curious, build friendships, try new roles and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, you will have the support around you to help you learn and grow.
Director Rail Operations
Network Rail Consulting