Chiltern celebrates women in engineering: A conversation with Amy Napier | Chiltern Railways

Chiltern celebrates women in engineering: A conversation with Amy Napier

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2017, we spoke to Amy Napier, Reliability Engineer for the Chiltern Railways Engineering Department about how she got into the industry and what she loves about her job.

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How long have you worked for Chiltern?

Roughly 2.5 years. I started on the management graduate scheme and then applied to be a Reliability Engineer, which I’ve been doing for over a year.

Can you tell us about your current role?

As a Reliability Engineer, I’m in charge of the fleets for two of our most common vehicles, the class 165 and 168 trains. I look at their reliability, tracking data and performance against KPIs. There’s a lot of data analysis in my role.

What do you most enjoy about the role?

Every day comes with its own challenges. Part of the job is to carry out projects to improve long-term performance of our trains and measure the outcomes of the projects. We’ve got a few good ones so far this year.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

I’ve got a Maths and Chemistry joint honours degree, not engineering, and sometimes I have to challenge the decisions taken by those with formal engineering qualifications. This can be daunting, but I’m used to it now.

Can you tell us a bit more about your path into engineering?

I was a management graduate, and not from an engineering background. I spent time in lots of departments: Procurement, Control, Health & Safety, Customer Services, and a couple of months with Engineering. The engineering role sparked my interest, and they said I should consider applying for the role. I did and I really enjoy my job.

When you started studying, where did you think you would end up?

I had no idea at the time. I did Maths and Chemistry at A-level and one of my teachers said to me, “you’ll be bored if you take a full degree in Maths. Challenge yourself a bit.” So I decided on a 50/50 split. Chemistry was definitely challenging!

What attracted you to the railway?

I did a placement year with another rail company during my degree. I saw the placement advertised and thought, “I’m sick of getting stuck on broken down trains going into London for interviews” – so I applied and said how I was annoyed about getting stuck on their services all the time. They liked how unique it was.

The placement role was as a student analyst for a year, analysing data for the revenue management team. That really was my path in and I enjoyed it. After university, I saw Chiltern’s graduate scheme and applied.

What advice would you give to people just starting out?

Get to know as many faces as possible. Everyone is friendly if you get to know them. Everyone is willing to help.

What’s the most amusing thing you’ve seen happen on the railway?

Definitely swans on the line. They’re a protected species and we don’t see then very often. We try to avoid hitting them, as we do with every animal on the line.

What gets you up in the morning?

The alarm clock. I’m not one of these people with a snooze button. As soon as my alarm goes off I’m up out of bed. I like coming into work. I like the people around me, chatting to them, and seeing what challenges will come my way each day.

Why would you encourage young women to pursue a career in engineering?

It’s a very challenging and rewarding career. As a woman in this area you tend to be in the minority in the depot environment, but everyone treats you with the same respect. I have a great group of colleagues here at Chiltern, they are like family. The job is different every day, I’m always learning something new, and that’s really exciting.

Chiltern Railways is an equal opportunity employer.

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