The sky’s the limit in terms of opportunities in the rail industry

The Leader of the Women in Rail Malaysia says we’ve got to get the message out of the opportunities available in the rail sector to young people.

Natasha Zulkifli is one of the guest speakers at Friday’s Women in Rail Annual Conference in London. This year it will explore the steps businesses can take to ensure a gender balanced, diverse and inclusive workforce in the UK railway industry.

“There has been more awareness to get more women into rail,” she said.

“Women in Rail Malaysia invests a lot of time in talking to young people to get them to consider a career in the rail space.

“The job market is competitive and because the rail industry has by nature been very low profile, we are taking proactive steps to get more young people to be aware of what is being planned for in terms of infrastructure development so that they can make informed academic and career choices.

“There are policies in place to include more women in senior positions in the civil service (30 per cent) as well as on boards of public listed companies.

“Carrot (incentives) and stick (naming and shaming public companies that haven’t met the female board of directors’ quota) seems to be the current method of approaching the challenge.”

Natasha is a Director at YTL Construction in Malaysia and part of a project team that is building the new 192km electrified double track rail link for the Malaysian government in Johor.

Among her recent achievements include leading a team from Malaysia to negotiate a Government-to-Government contract for a cross-border metro rail line from Malaysia into Singapore and was in the team that conceptualised the High-Speed Rail Line project to connect Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in 90 minutes. This year the German government recognised her as one of the ‘Remarkable Women in Transport’.

At the conference in London she’ll be providing an update on the current state of rail projects in Malaysia, the activities and outreach initiatives of Women in Rail Malaysia, as well as the current Government’s policies regarding the inclusion of women in the workplace.

She said: “I have worked in the rail industry for 8 years. I don’t come from a science or technical background – I have a degree in law from the London School of Economics (LSE).

“I have worked for the regulator and the operator, and I now work on the construction side.

“The future is in the rail space from an economic, environmental and productivity perspective. The Government will need good people to not only support and grow this industry, but also ensure it thrives.

“There are also opportunities for foreign job exposure once an individual has enough project experience under her belt. The sky’s the limit in terms of professional opportunities.”

Registration for Friday’s Women in Rail Annual Conference is full – with anyone still hoping to attend to join the waiting list.

Natasha is among a host of high-profile speakers including Rowena Ironside (Chair of Women on Boards UK), Gillian Unsworth (Head of Gender Pay Gap Reporting, Government Equalities Office) and Ruth Hannant (Director General at the Department for Transport).

She said: “Events like this are critical to get people out from their day jobs and into a room that will allow them to not only expand their professional network, but also solidify the personal camaraderie.

“This not only enhances their confidence and career opportunities, but also strengthens the rail industry as a brand because it shows to external stakeholders that the rail industry is united and focussed on industry betterment as well as committed to raising standards.

“In a traditionally male dominated industry, the enhanced and improved diversity mix at events and gatherings would comfort governmental stakeholders because it shows the commitment of professionals to self-evolve for industry betterment.”

Visit www.womeninrail.org for more information about Women in Rail.