What Am I?

February 27, 2010

I have a real problem answering questions such as what do you do, or what are you?

I have a degree in Environmental Sciences. From UEA. I always considered myself to be a scientist by nature, interest, and inheritance.

I joined British Rail in 1981 as a Management Trainee and continued to work for BR until 1994. Much of my work is still concerned with the railway. I am happy to consider myself to be a railwayman – even if that is a sexist term. Maybe a railway manager.

I was a marketing trainee. BR gave me a lot of training in marketing, including external courses. I got the Diploma of the Institute of Marketing by doing evening classes. I spent all of my years with BR in marketing / business development. I was a salesman for three years, and received masses of sales training. I was freight marketing advisor to the State Railway of Thailand for two years. I still do a lot of marketing, and with my boss win nearly all of my own work. I think I can say I’m a marketeer.

I spent all of my railway career in rail freight. We were always taught to consider ourselves to be logisticians – freight people first and foremost.  I joined the Institute of Logistics in about 1985 and have been a member ever since. Much of my work now is concerned with logistics in its widest since, from waste collection, through construction logistics and retail supply chains to national freight policy. I am certainly a logistician.

Since I became a consultant I have worked closely with economists, demand forecasters, transport modellers, and transport planners on a variety of projects that involve moving people rather than goods. Nearly always these are rail or tram projects, and my role is to understand the way the business works – how money flows through the railway, what makes things viable or not. This involves understanding transport policy and planning policy as well as transport economics and railway operations. Now I don’t really know what that makes me. Probably a transport economist or a transport planner.

And, of course, for 17 years I have been a consultant. An advisor. This is really two jobs: finding and winning work; and providing advice that clients are happy to pay for. Three if you count managing a team and making money. So I am certainly a consultant.

When people ask, I normally say I’m a transport consultant. That generally shuts them up and they move politely away . . . .


BR Management Trainees In Power 50

January 20, 2009

Paul Bunting is rated by Transit Magazine to be the 50th most powerful person in the UK passenger transport industry. Heh, I remember Paul! He was a British Rail Management Trainee in the same year as me! Now he is strategic marketing director of National Express Group.

Looking through the other people in the Transit 2009 Power 50 there are 7 or 8 more BR management trainees (plus a couple from London Transport’s management training scheme). The list below shows their name, position in the Power 50, and, as far as I can tell, the year they joined British Rail.

Mike Mitchell – 11 – 1970

Richard Brown – 12 – 1978?

Ian Dobbs – 18 – 1978?

Adrian Shooter – 24 – 1970

Ian Brown – 31 – 1971?

Nick Brown – 40 – 1981

Paul Bunting – 50 – 1981

I’m not sure about David Franks. He joined the railway at 16, but I have a feeling he later joined the management training scheme.

British Rail’s management training scheme was regarded as being one of the best in the country. It was actually several schemes, including an engineering scheme, a personnel scheme, and an operations scheme. Briefly there was also a marketing scheme, which is what I was on between 1981 and 1982, as was Paul Bunting. I think I will write another post about what we actually got up to – but for me it was a wonderful 18 months that covered just about everything that British Rail did from night shifts at Stratford Yard to ships, hotels, and an advertising agency.


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