Alexandra Donaldson - Service Delivery Manager - UK Coach
I started on the National Express graduate scheme in September 2014, shortly after completing university. Unsure of my career direction, I was interested in the graduate programme because of the flexibility to experience different business functions.
My first placement was at the Birmingham Coach Station. I am quite a people person and prefer hands-on work. Every day brought fresh challenges, which I loved.
From the Coach Station I moved to Service Delivery for a couple of months, working with the Safety Team, the Engineering Team and the Partner Operations team. My role involved many aspects, from conducting fire safety assessments and to undertaking safety courses such as Accident Investigation. In addition I helped to organise NEOP, an annual event where partner operators get together with representatives from National Express.
My next placement was with the Owned Operations Department at Start Hill (our depot by StanstedAirport). I produced risk assessments of all of the routes and created videos of the routes to assist in route learning, as well as assisting the Driver Team Managers with driver issues. Working in Owned Operations gave me a great chance to communicate with the drivers and understand the issues they face day to day. I found it helpful to see the business from an operations point of view because it helped me understand the impact business decisions on the physical operation.
My next project was within the Contracts Department. Our festival and event work is growing, so too is our demand for vehicles. Therefore my objective was to increase the number of operators we can use, as well as helping to improve the standards of service provided by these operators. This involved me going out to meet coach operators, promoting National Express, highlighting how their business could benefit from a partnership with us and then guiding them through our approval process to make it as efficient as possible.
The experience I gained from working within different departments gave me valuable skills which helped me to secure the role I really wanted, which was in the Partner Operations team. I am currently the Service Delivery Manager for the South, where I am responsible for the service performance of our South-Eastern Operators. I am passionate about this role because I get to liaise with so many different people, whilst still having an element of work in Operations and its strategic aspects too.
On top of all the great work opportunities I encountered, I was given the opportunity of a work placement in Africa, supporting the transport charity, Transaid. I have recently returned from spending three months working with the Institute of Transport in Tanzania, assisting them with the monitoring and evaluating of their driver training, with the goal of reducing road accidents in Africa. It was an incredible experience. It was an opportunity to learn how to live and work in another culture, as well as enjoying personal experiences such as visiting Zanzibar and going on a safari.
There is always a new challenge working for National Express, fresh from returning from Africa, in addition my current role I will shortly be commencing my Masters in Business Administration at Aston University.