So here I am on Friday morning taking a brief moment to look back upon my first week at Rail Forum… Monday morning began by passing the first test of taking a left turn out of my road to make the short journey towards the Rail forum offices, rather than letting the muscle memory kick in and take me off up the A38 towards the Railway Children offices. Within 90 minutes of my first day I was sat at The Midlands Connect ‘Full Steam Ahead’ conference, listening to Rail Minister Huw Merriman MP and others highlight the importance of rail and high speed rail in helping to unlock so many of the opportunities that exist across the East Midlands and beyond.
It was great to spend some time with Cat on Tuesday to really start to understand our offering as Rail Forum, just how important our members are to us and their needs. This was represented by joining member meetings with both PARC and Streetwave, two incredibly innovative businesses that have much to offer. Following this, I was given the chance to attend a short overview from David Fletcher, Director of Derby City Development and Growth with Elaine; yet another reminder of what an exciting time it is to be involved in rail, not only from a local perspective, but perhaps even more so from a national perspective. It was great to hear some more about the background, plans and progress of the GBR Derby developments.
Wednesday it was great to attend a member visit with my fellow Engagement Manager Ben and meet Furrer+Frey, see their fantastic new facilities and offices in Beeston and hear more about their objectives moving forward. Later Andrew Johnson gave me an introduction to GCRE, Rail Forum’s 30th anniversary partner. He shared how their facility is now starting to take shape in south Wales and it was good to hear just how valuable the site could be for so many reasons across the sector.
The highlight of week one though was undoubtedly Thursday at Rolling Stock Networking (RSN) where much of the above really came together. It was such a clear reminder of just how much genuine passion and innovation there is within the sector and that people and relationships are at the forefront of this to maximise potential. Our Meet the Board and later TOCTalk gave many members the chance to directly speak with a number of TOC’s and key contacts; both were hugely successful and all of the feedback that I’ve heard reflected just how valuable they were for members. Throughout RSN I had a fantastic opportunity to meet some members, seeing both familiar faces and many new ones around the exhibition, whilst also getting the chance to hear some more about the importance of Rail Forum membership for them and how we can continue to build upon that together!
As many of you may understand personally, or within your teams and organisations, being the ‘newbie’ after so long in a previous role, brings a sudden reality that there’s lots to learn and so much that you take for granted each day. It’s an exciting time and I appreciate the time the team is investing in helping me learn.
I think my overriding reflection after all of 4 ½ days, is that in all my roles throughout the last 27 years, the ‘customer’ really has been at the heart of so much of what I have focussed upon and enjoyed and just how important the development of relationships is for all businesses. So I am so excited to be part of a team that so genuinely wants to support its members and really help to unlock opportunities that exist throughout the industry, but equally it’s so apparent as the week 1 ‘newbie’, that the same ethos is also central as a ‘member’ of this team!!!
I really look forward to meeting and working with many more of you over the coming weeks and months….