Charlie Hatcher - General Manager - UK Coach
After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a degree in Business Management in July 2013, I started the National Express graduate scheme two months later. The initial few months were spent working in our Quality & Standards team on some project work for the onboard experience, with a close focus on the toilets! This gave me a good chance to gather my bearings in the company and liaise with various departments.
By December I was given the opportunity to lead on some more integral projects around relaunching our customer recovery process (FRANCIS) and our customer contact options. The latter involved me working closely with an external supplier to deliver a new customer contact interface for the website including our first venture into ‘Live Chat’. I reported into the Customer Experience Director for this who provided me the guidance and support to deliver on two projects. I was being given expert guidance and leading projects which had a real tangible impact on our customer experience, it was eye-opening, challenging and hugely rewarding.
Shortly after this I covered a vacancy in the Service Quality team which involved audit and engagement with our East of England stations and operators. My previous role was desk based with much of my interaction focused within my department as well as a few coach stations. This next role gave me the opportunity to get out and visit operators and stations, chairing performance related meetings and representing the company. It was great to be on the road and seeing a completely different side of the business.
It was in June 2014 when I made the move south to London Victoria Coach Station to takeover from a departing Duty Manager. It was my first experience of people management, looking after a shift-based team of 12. Within a month the station manager for NX had left the role and I covered the vacancy on an interim basis until December. It was during this time that I restructured the management team of 8, which included redundancy for one individual. I learnt a huge amount during this process and it gave me the confidence to accept the role permanently in December 2014. I don’t know of many graduate schemes where you are restructuring a team of managers within 12 months of joining the company. I felt invested in and hugely valued. What my degree lacked in practical skills, National Express provided within a year.
Since taking on the station manager role permanently I have been working hard on our partnership with landlords, Transport for London. This has exposed me to yet another key business skill which is hard to teach at university. It has been an incredibly rewarding time for me in my career and an excellent platform for my development.