Now is the time for the rail industry to embrace diversity and new ways of finding solutions, write Thomas Kerr, RTAA president, and Laurena Basutu, RTAA marketing manager.
The world has changed dramatically. For the rail industry, the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how we work and communicate with others to deliver the services and infrastructure that our community needs.
Although challenging, COVID-19 has created an opportunity for the industry to creatively tackle another key challenge – meeting the significant demand generated by the pipeline of projects in Australasia. Specifically, ensuring that the rail industry workforce has the capacity and capability required.
This challenge presents us with an opportunity to enhance the diversity of the industry workforce by tapping into the broader ecosystem of talent from other industries such as the airline and hospitality sectors, while also celebrating and nurturing the talents of emerging rail professionals. Their creativity and innovation will build the industry’s resilience and capacity now and into the future.
The Rail Track Association Australia (RTAA) Emerging Rail Specialist Award and Diversity Award has gone some way to meeting this challenge by inspiring individuals and companies to rise to the significant talent constraints we face. Ultimately, encouraging, celebrating, and building the capacity of emerging rail specialists will help us retain the knowledge and foster the innovation required to ensure the success and sustainability of our industry.
RTAA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – JAMES DONOVAN – 2017 RTAA EMERGING RAIL SPECIALIST AWARD WINNER
James Donovan defines excellence as “a willingness to not accept the status quo. Trying to address existing problems in everyday tasks with a novel approach and being willing to consider a different way of doing things to achieve a better result.”
Donovan, a systems interface engineer for MTR Australia, was nominated for the RTAA Emerging rail specialist award by his then employer Metro Trains Melbourne for his work on a project to automate the isolation and earthing of the overhead wiring system. The benefits included significantly faster and safer track access both for maintenance and incident response.
Attending InnoTrans 2018 was a “gunzel’s dream” for Donovan. “I came away with many new rail friends, and a greater appreciation of how rail works outside of Australia. The rail industry in Australia (and across the rest of the world) heavily relies on the import of specific products from other countries, which is a long and expensive process. All of these organisations are seeing unprecedented orders, as the global push on rail continues. It was valuable to understand the challenges these international organisations face, to better inform the implications any impact to their business may have on our local business.”
The best advice Donovan can offer other emerging rail specialists is “grab any opportunity that comes your way. Both personal and professional development comes from new opportunities and experiences. Even if you have difficulty, there are so many helpful and knowledgeable people within the industry that would be keen to provide their insight.”
If you know a talented emerging rail specialist who has demonstrated innovation and creativity in their field, nominate them for the RTAA Emerging Rail Specialist award: www. rtaa.org.au/services/emerging-rail-specialist- award.html. The winner will receive up to $10,000 to attend an international transport conference of their choice. Entries close June 26, 2020.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
During this time, things many not be exactly business as usual as we adapt to different ways of connecting. It is important for us at the RTAA to keep in touch. Let us know the best way to connect to help you connect with others by completing this simple four question survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/KYCMVD6.