Working in the rail industry has presented Anita Panchal with a wide variety of opportunities and experiences that she shares daily with her teams in her role as Train Manager at our rail operation in Wellington, New Zealand. We recently sat down with Anita to learn more about her role, how she supports her team when things don’t go to plan, how she keeps her positive outlook and the benefits of a career in rail.
You’re a Train Manager with our Wellington team – how would you describe a typical day?
I always look forward to starting my day at work and a typical day for me as a Train Manager starts with meeting and greeting my team. I check the daily rules and regulations to see what’s going on out on our network and prepare all my necessary paperwork. I complete my pre-departure briefing with all my team members making sure we are all on the same page before our journey. The most important part of my day is making my passengers journey safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. I enjoy bringing a smile to their faces by providing them with excellent customer service.
How do you help support your team when there are disruptions or changes?
I work well in a disruption as I enjoy working under pressure. I feel like I can get into my zone and work confidently and calmly. One of my strengths is that I can step out of the stress and see the bigger picture. I have experience in both rostering and operations, so I assist the team in providing quick and accurate solutions in multiple different disruptions.
My priority is to focus on staff who are stuck out on the network as they are responsible for communicating with their passengers. Communication is key in disruptions. Once I’ve sorted out staff, I move on to arranging the alternative transportation to get our passengers moving again. At times when I see the pressure is building within the team I step in, take charge, and give others a break and even out the workflow. It’s important to me that a disruption is managed as smoothly as possible for both staff and passengers and that we work as a team to achieve a common goal of getting our passenger moving.
What would you say are some of the benefits of a career in rail?
There are a lot of benefits and opportunities for career progression and for you to grow personally within rail. There are a wide variety of roles and opportunities so you can gain a lot of knowledge and experience, all of which can set you up for the future. Being in rail industry I have gained a lot of Health and Safety knowledge which is beneficial for me in personal and professional life and seeing the things in that prospect keeping safety as paramount.
How do you stay healthy and positive in a challenging job?
For me personally, I love my job and I look forward to coming to work every day so that helps me remain positive. Work life balance is important, and I make sure I prioritize spending time with my family outside of work. All my roles within rail have involved helping people and I always try my best to accommodate their requests. I get satisfaction from seeing that I have made them happy and seeing the results we achieve together. I have experienced a lot of challenges which I face positively and find solutions to. I feel a sense of achievement when decisions I have made end in good results. Which keeps me focused and positive. Being a team player motivating the team and staying positive keeps me going.
What have been some highlights for you in the role?
The biggest highlight for me so far is my progression successfully into different areas of the business. I have gained a wide variety of experience within these roles. Starting as a part time Passenger Operator and progressing to a full-time Train Manager within a year. I developed confidence within myself and became a tutor so I could pass all my knowledge on to others.
The real breakthrough in my career was being seconded as a Roster Coordinator. A major achievement was rostering hundreds of staff during the COVID pandemic within a very short space of time. I received a gold star for my work during this time which I was really very proud of.
I was very interested in progressing even further to gain more knowledge in the rail industry by moving into the Service Coordinator role which allowed me to deal with external stake holders like KiwiRail. Leadership has always been my focus so when the opportunity arrived, I landed my dream role as an Onboard Team Leader which I thoroughly enjoy.