What did you used to do?
I used to be a Strategic Risk Manager for Transport for London.
What made you want to change?
There was a transformation within my organisation. I had been seconded into a Management role but as it was officially for less than 18 months, I had to go back to my previous role as per the transformation policy. My previous role no longer existed. I saw the Train Operator (TO) at the beginning of the transformation and knew if successful you were added to a waiting list until a role became available. I applied for the role as ‘back up’ as I wanted to stay within the organisation and there were not a lot of roles being advertised. I started my TO training 14 months after passing my final interview.
What were the challenges?
There were so many! The operational working environment was completely new to me, the training course was very technical, which was a steep learning curve. I was no longer working in my area of expertise and was surrounded by colleagues who had a lot more knowledge of the area than I did, as they came from operational backgrounds. As well as shift patterns, being the oldest trainee and generally taking longer to absorb information than when I was younger and did my degree. However, I was told I was they’d never seen a Trainee work harder than I did! I was there from 6am till 6pm and studying at home till 10.30pm most nights. The 14 week course took over my life!
How long did it take?
What would you do differently?
Possibly more pre-work before starting the training.
What do you do now and what does that look like?
I am a Train Operator on the Piccadilly Line. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do and I actually don’t mind the shifts, which has really surprised me!
How has your life /work changed?
The shifts have obviously had an impact, but if you put in requests in advance for time off they are normally given. I really appreciate my time off and make sure I use it doing something nice. I have been told by other TO’s that you should keep busy outside of the job to stop yourself getting bored spending so much time on your own in the role.
What top tips would you give to someone who really wants to change career?
Go for it! My career change was not a choice originally but it has ended up being a great thing that’s happened. I earn more money and have more time as I am no longer doing the commute into London. I am turning 50 this year and am very happy in my new career.