International Women’s Day 2024

In honour of this year’s theme for International Women's Day (IWD) "Inspire Inclusion", we wanted to recognise some of the inspiring women within Network Rail Consulting across the globe. We spoke to some of our colleagues who provided their personal responses on what IWD means to them, what drives and inspires them, and some of the best career advice they’ve received along the way.

Helen Speirs
Global Head of HR

Helen Speirs

United Kingdom

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

"For me It’s about owning your own identity, your own journey, and helping to change the way the world perceives a woman’s strength. Continually supporting others where you can, to work towards a future that won’t label male or female leaders, there will just be leaders!"

What influence do you strive to have on your female colleagues?

"To help provide the strength and vision to be seen 100% completely as themselves, to know they absolutely have the right to be present and stand up for their values and what they have achieved without being labelled a mere statistic. I truly believe that anyone can achieve anything if you are willing to work hard to get there, you just need the will to succeed and belief in yourself."

What's the best career advice you've been given?

"Be adaptable but stand up for your views and opinions, they are equally as important as each and everyone else's."

Is there a female that inspires you? If so, who and why?

"There are many women that have inspired me throughout my life, my mother, my own daughter, my first primary school teacher…. But I think from the public eye, JK Rowling caught both my attention and my fascination at how she can use literature to channel imagination which in turn opens up the world and how we perceive it. The below is a quote from her which I think is very apt."

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default." – J.K Rowling


Katherine Stowe
Service Line Director (Acting) – Systems Integration and Technical Services



What does International Women's Day mean to you?
"It is a day for the world to recognise the disparity women have to endure in their every day lives, from girls who can’t go to school because they have their periods, to female journalists receiving rape threats for expressing their views. In general the world is more difficult for women and IWD reminds me to keep striving to improve this."

What influence do you strive to have on your female colleagues?

"I want to show my colleagues that you can be successful whilst still being your authentic self. Most good leaders have a unique style that sets them apart from the crowd, but when leaders are mostly men it's no surprise women sometimes emulate male traits and don't behave like their real selves in the workplace. Its nice to see female leaders of all personalities and leadership types succeed. This has influenced me and I hope to pass it along."

What's the best career advice you’ve been given?

"To speak up. Those that know me will probably laugh that I was given advice like this once (as I like to join in on a discussion), but when I was younger I was very self-conscious about my opinions and would often only raise them if someone else had a similar view. Now I'm happy to be out on the limb if I think that’s where I need to be!"

Is there a female that inspires you? If so, who and why?

"My mentor, who is fantastic at identifying people’s motivations, good and bad. This helps her to navigate difficult situations and offer up solutions that will genuinely appeal to those involved. She is also her authentic self as a leader, having done a lot of work to understand her own priorities, goals and guiding principles."


Lu Wang
Principal Consultant: Planning & Control



What does International Women's Day mean to you?

"For me, International Women's Day is a special occasion to honor the remarkable women in our lives – from our mothers and beloved aunts to our grandmothers and the women who surround us in our daily lives. It's a moment to appreciate the strength, courage, and resilience demonstrated by women throughout history and in our communities today."

What influence do you strive to have on your female colleagues?

"I strive to have a positive influence on all of my colleagues. One of my main goals is to create an inclusive and supportive work environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and empowered to thrive. I believe in supporting women's professional growth and development. By fostering collaboration, mentorship, and mutual respect, I aspire to contribute to a workplace culture where all individuals can reach their full potential."

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

"One of the best pieces of career advice I've received is to prioritize continuous learning and personal growth. This advice has resonated with me because it emphasizes the importance of staying curious, adaptable, and open to new opportunities."

Is there a female that inspires you? If so, who and why?

"My mother's journey, from overcoming disadvantage to achieving career success through education, has profoundly inspired me. What inspires me the most about her is her unwavering strength, resilience, and selflessness. Despite facing numerous challenges and obstacles, she has always remained determined, never giving up on her dreams or compromising her values."

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