Celebrating Women in Rail - An Interview with Tara Hazarei


How did you end up being a graduate within Network Rail Consulting (NRC)?

Post completion of my Civil/Structural Engineering Degree from University of Adelaide, the job market in the Engineering industry was very low due to Covid-19. Therefore, I kept my options open to kick starting my career in any relevant field to my degree, and I was willing to relocate to any city across the country for opportunities that could enhance my career.

I applied for any role that had the potential to develop my engineering and other workplace skills, and I was lucky enough to get two offers at the same time. One was a Graduate Civil Engineering role for a construction firm while the other was my current, Graduate Project Management role in Network Rail Consulting. Initially, choosing between the two offers was a difficult decision to make. However, while researching both companies, I came across a LinkedIn post, shared by NRC, where successful women in the rail industry were sharing their experiences in their roles. As a young graduate woman, I found that post very inspiring and was certain that I wanted to go for the Graduate Project Manager role at NRC. I chose Project Management in consultancy rather than the construction firm, as it gives you the fundamental skillset that you can apply to any role and is still relevant to Civil/Structural Engineering roles. This opportunity not only enables me to further my experience within the industry, but there are a range of opportunities to look forward to in the future.

How is the role matching up to your expectations?

As a new Graduate starting in the rail industry with no prior knowledge of the key components that make up the rail system, I was very nervous and experienced challenges trying to wrap my head around this complex system. The vocabulary and acronyms involved in the program were like a new language that I was just exposed to. I started working within the Project Management team in a large signalling project in Sydney called Digital Systems Program, which will replace the current signalling and train controls with a modern, world class, intelligent system based on European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 technology. I have been fortunate enough to be working with highly professional managers, and with continued support from them and my team, as well as maintaining a positive attitude as I work towards my career goal, I managed to not only expand my understanding of the rail system, but I also feel more confident about the skills I've gained.

Due to the wide range of career opportunities being offered within the rail industry and because my current managers value and listen to their employees’ voices and provide work-related opportunities, I am positive that I will continue to grow my skills and potentially fit in to different roles.

Furthermore, I realised it is important to be part of an organisation that is supportive of my career goals and provides opportunities. I took the opportunity of mentoring sessions with successful mentors within the industry who are keen to help me grow and plan for my career goals.

What has surprised you about working in rail?

Soon after I started working within the Project Management team, I was offered the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Technical Training that our parent company Network Rail provides in the UK. During March this year, I completed my third and final module where I focused on Track Engineering. I am very excited to receive my Diploma in Track Engineering once our final exam is assessed. The technical training really helped me to gain a better understanding about the rail system as well as encouraged me to be better at my job. It was good to be able to connect back to my original degree in civil/structural and continue to develop these skills in parallel to my Project Management skills. Apart from the technical training, I found the opportunity to travel to the UK very valuable in my overall personal growth and self-development.

Do you have anything you would like to share with upcoming graduates?

There are a wide range of opportunities in the rail industry and the industry enables people to explore new career options. I get inspired when I see successful female Engineers undertaking leadership roles within the industry and it is great to be a part of an organisation that provides equal opportunities for everyone. Therefore, my advice to the new female graduates is to join the rail industry with a positive mindset and be open to experiences that will help you grow, be fearless and always willing to take any new opportunities being offered.

Tara Hazarei
Graduate Engineer, Australia
Network Rail Consulting