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Women at First making a difference

Women at First

#womenatfirst

We explore the inspirational stories of women as they discuss their careers at First

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Women at First

Jenny Saunders
Libby Scourse
Evie Carroll
Stacy Thundercliffe
Tina Hayden Williams
Louise Cheeseman
Amanda Burns
Samyutha Bala
Audrey Simpson

Jenny Saunders

Head of Stations, South Western Railway

“You certainly don’t need to be an engineer to work in rail as there is so much variety – you can be anything you want to be.”

As Head of Stations, Jenny is responsible for the delivery of safety, performance and customer experience at 188 stations. She began her career at retailer Gap before joining SWR in 2008. Jenny’s strong customer service ethos brought her success as Area Manager in several locations before being promoted to her current role in early 2014. During this time she had two children and believes that a good maternity policy, coupled with a supportive team and line manager, has made the transition to full time working mother much easier.

Libby Scourse

Divisional Financial Controller, Greyhound

“It was great to have the opportunity to move with my family and further my career in the US with Greyhound. I’m proud to be part of really first-rate teams at FirstGroup.”

Libby is currently on international assignment to our Greyhound business based in Dallas, where she is the Financial Controller. Following training at Ernst & Young LLP, where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant, Libby worked for several companies before joining First Bus in 2013. She managed the financial operations for the Wales and South of England Region before promotion to Divisional Director of Financial Operations. In 2017, she seized the opportunity to broaden her experience in one of our North American businesses.

Evie Carroll

Graduate Trainee, First Bus

“It’s a fantastic graduate scheme with the chance to see all aspects of the business first hand. People here are very friendly and supportive. I love the variety, it will help me decide which type of management role I want to take on after the two-year programme.”

Following a degree in International Business at Edinburgh University, Evie was looking for a ‘hands on’ graduate scheme which would give her the opportunity to apply what she’d learned. The transport sector appealed because of the change and modernisation that’s ongoing, and she felt that First Bus offered a broad graduate scheme with lots of opportunities.

Stacy Thundercliffe

Fleet Technical Manager, TransPennine Express

“Although there is still a gender imbalance within engineering, I have always found FirstGroup really welcoming and helpful and have never experienced any prejudice because I’m female. It’s a really exciting place to be and has given me a great and rewarding career so far.”

Stacy joined TransPennine Express as a Graduate Engineer in 2005. After 18 months in placements across the business, she became a Project Engineer and then a Fleet Engineer, whilst gaining Chartered Engineer status. To expand her experience, she spent five years at another rail company, before returning to FirstGroup in 2016 to the leadership role of Fleet Technical Manager.

Tina Hayden Williams

Mechanic, First Bus

“I like everything about my job. It’s interesting and challenging – something different every day. I’ve never had a boring day!”

Tina joined First Bus as an apprentice in the Bristol depot in 2013. During her training, she received the Apprentice Inspection Award in the Institute of Road and Transport Engineers Skills Challenge in 2016. Having qualified as a mechanic, she continued her development by completing an additional year to gain an electrical qualification to add to her skills. She has also become a skilled vehicle inspector, as well as a vehicle technician.

Louise Cheeseman

Service Delivery Director, Hull Trains

“I’ve been encouraged by some great male bosses and mentors and have taken the opportunities that I was offered. The rail industry has given me such an amazing career. I don’t want women similar to myself to miss out on such a great opportunity!”

Louise is Service Delivery Director for Hull Trains. She started in the rail industry in 2001 as a guard with Northern Rail. Being quickly promoted through safety and operations roles, she became the General Manager for Docklands Light Railway, which included responsibility for managing operations for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Louise then travelled to Sydney to assist in the preparation of the Sydney Light Rail bid. A further two years was spent with Metrolink in Manchester as Service Delivery Director before she joined FirstGroup in her current role, which involves delivering a great experience for Hull Trains’ customers.

Amanda Burns

Head of Marketing & Sales, GWR

“ It gives me a real buzz to know we’re leading the way for consumers and the industry. I always challenge myself and my team to ask ‘how can we improve and do things better?’. GWR and FirstGroup really embody this philosophy.”

Amanda is Head of Marketing & Sales in GWR, a role she has held since 2016. She has experience from the airline sector in British Midland and BAA Airports, as well as with BUPA and most recently Tourism Ireland, where she set up a presence in new and developing markets in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Samyutha Bala

Customer Experience Manager, GWR

“I only planned to stay for six months but the railway pulls you in. I have received great support through GWR’s mentoring programme, as well as training and encouragement. I really love my job and I’ve decided that I want to stay in the rail industry.”

Samyutha joined GWR in 2013 after studying for a Masters in Dentistry. Her first job at GWR was as a Despatcher in Operations. She was encouraged by her manager to apply for a role as Customer Ambassador. After two years doing this, she covered as a Duty Manager for several months before becoming a Customer Experience Manager in the marketing team, where she aims to improve all aspects of how customers interact with GWR.

Audrey Simpson

Bus Driver, First Bus

“ I always wanted to be a Bus Driver. After having kids, I saw an advert on the back of a bus and decided to go for it. Working on the Airport bus, I’m often the first person tourists speak to when they arrive in Glasgow. I love my job.”

Audrey works on the flagship Glasgow Airport service based out of our Caledonia Depot. Before joining First Bus in 2008, mother-of-three Audrey previously worked in the school kitchens, then later as a Catering Supervisor at a local hospital but was always interested in changing career paths to become a Bus Driver.

We’re looking for more women to join our team and enjoy a rewarding career in the fast-moving world of transport. With over 100,000 employees, there’s more to our careers than just driving - we’ve a variety of roles in our rail, bus, tram, coach and office teams. So many people think jobs in the front of a cab or under an engine are just for men – our women prove otherwise; they are at the top of their game in a variety of roles, leading teams and working every day to provide the best experience for our customers. Here, you can make a real difference every day, helping local communities and millions of people to visit loved ones, go to school, travel to work and get to where they want to go.

On this page, you can read some of the inspiring stories of #womenatfirst at different stages of their career in the UK and US. You can find more about their careers, what they do and what they love about their role. You can read about Audrey, one of our bus drivers who provides a friendly service to our customers and Jenny who leads the way behind the scenes managing 188 rail stations. We offer all kinds of career journeys from engineering and finance to marketing and customer service – look forward to you getting on board!