Transport’s Woman of the Year says “the impossible is definitely possible”
After receiving the prestigious honour at the 2018 FTA everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards, Anna Delvecchio MCIPS, Commercial Account Director at Amey and the co-lead of the recent Rail Sector Deal, spoke to Tara Nolan, Junior Editor of Global Railway Review, on how she plans to encourage more diversity in the transport industry.
Following a 20-year-long career in the rail industry – during which Anna Delvecchio has held several senior commercial and supply chain roles – Anna was named Woman of the Year by the FTA everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards 2018.
The judges were impressed by the support Anna has provided for women in transport and logistics, which includes her work within Amey, voluntary mentoring across the sector and the establishment of the Women in Rail South group. Anna is dedicated to attracting the next generation of talent and has several new and exciting projects lined up for 2019.
How did you first get into the rail industry?
By accident! After finishing my apprenticeship, I was drawn to purchasing and applied for a role as a Buyer at Railtrack. I was fortunate to be offered the role and the rest is history!
I have now worked in the rail sector for 20 years, but it only feels like I joined a couple of years ago – the last 20 years have definitely flown by!
Have you seen much change in the industry in terms of gender diversity since you joined?
Yes, the industry is absolutely on a journey, and has made many positive steps to improve gender diversity. However, there is still a lot of work left to do! It’s not just about gender – we need to make sure the industry is truly diverse.
There is also great work taking place as part of the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan as well as the Women in Rail and Women in Transport initiatives.
What work/support have you been involved with for Women in Rail, Transport and everywoman?
I am very passionate about diversity and inclusion, as well as helping apprentices (being an ex-apprentice myself). I’ve dedicated time voluntarily to mentoring men and women across the sector at all levels and have worked with many individuals over the last three years. I like to help others be the best they can be!
Women in Transport covers all modes of transport and I am on the board alongside many other talented individuals. We are focused on combining the transport modes to help address the skills gap with the benefits of knowledge transfer, lessons learned and stronger partnerships. You will see the start of this journey soon, when Women in Transport brings together all modes for the first time, identifying how we can work better together and share best practice. I am impressed by Christine Hurley who is the executive support for Women in Transport – she has such great behaviours.
I am currently the lead for the Women in Rail South and South West with a set of fantastic individuals. Women in Rail was created to improve diversity in the UK rail industry through networking opportunities, and to offer support for all women within the sector. Together with the South and South West steering group, I have set up several professional development and networking events for women and men where we have received great feedback. Women in Rail have a great team including the other regional leads and the board.
Alongside this, I am an ambassador for everywoman. I’m looking forward to continuing to meet others from different sectors, hearing about the opportunities and challenges we share and how we can use this learning to continue to drive improvements across transport.
Following the 2018 everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards, I was asked to be a judge in 2019 which I was delighted to accept, and this year there will be a new category for apprentices too! I was also honoured to be a judge at this year’s Northern Power Women awards which was both a humbling and inspiring experience.
What is the biggest challenge you face when encouraging women to consider the rail industry? How do you overcome this?
The biggest challenge is the current perception of rail and transport roles. We all need to work collaboratively and collectively to help change that. I was at another sector event about seven weeks ago, and a senior executive asked me what sector I worked in. Her response: “What you?! The railway? Never!” That made me smile!
We need to take a different approach to promoting our industry and attracting future talent. Role models play a vital role in retention and attraction – there are so many talented women and men working at every level across this sector. Amey’s unique partnership with the Girl Guides to introduce an Engineering badge is another great initiative to help bust the myths around STEM careers for young girls who might otherwise not consider such a career choice.
What advice would you give a young woman today to help her succeed in the rail industry?
My motto is the ‘impossible is definitely possible’. I would advise any female in the transport industry to be confident and believe in their own ability, to remember personal branding and to be kind to themselves as well as others.
Consider the opportunities in front of you – you don’t need to feel under pressure to get promotions quickly – side steps or secondments can be invaluable. My own recent secondment was to co-lead the development of the Rail Sector Deal.
I would urge women to grow their network (inside and outside of their organisations), to embrace change and to seek many mentors. I am a fan of mentoring programmes.
Finally, that we continue to support each other, and never stop learning.
What did winning the ‘The Woman of the Year Award’ mean to you?
Take a look…
I am so proud to have won Woman of the Year 2018. I’m just an ordinary woman trying to make a difference for a sector that I care so much about!