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RailStaff Awards: Highs and lows

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Satnam Thiara strolled up to the stage at the 2010 RailStaff Awards bursting with pride as the winner of the Newcomer of the Year category. A year earlier, he had been made redundant and faced an uncertain future so early on in his career.

The thought of winning hadn’t occurred to Sat as he arrived at Birmingham’s ICC to represent his employer and do a little networking. Then his name was called out.

“Almost automatically as I was receiving the award it felt a very emotional thing for me as well because coming from a very low point in my career, turning it round, that became a very high point,” said Sat, who said his success was, in no small part, down to the support of his colleagues, his line manager and his family.

Sat was working for Bridgeway Consulting when he won the award in 2010. Since then, he has also held business development and commercial roles at Ramboll, Network Rail and Pandrol before joining Balfour Beatty in 2015.

Sat is currently the business development manager at Balfour Beatty’s Rail Specialist Services business in Derby, supporting the technical services team with bid management and marketing.

“From my own perspective it really did a lot of benefit and good for my own confidence, and I certainly encourage other people that have been in similar situations to never give up really, that was the key thing for me.”

More determined

While being made redundant was a painful experience, Sat believes it made him even more determined to succeed and prove that he had something to offer the industry. When he joined Bridgeway in 2009, he threw himself into the role and immersed himself in different areas of the business. He believes it was this attitude which led to the nomination.

“That was, I think, largely to do with the fact that I came from a non-engineering background, a completely non-rail background and really pushed myself into operational roles as well as undertaking the sales and marketing role within the business.”

He added: “Being valued in an organisation is a key thing. To be recognised for the contributions that you’re making to an organisation are a key factor to retaining people in fact, not just getting the best out of them.”


Sat went on to explain why he encourages others to nominate colleagues for an award and what he feels the event has to offer the industry in 2018.

“I think where the RailStaff Awards is very niche is that it actually brings the whole of the industry together,” said Sat. “You get such a wide variety of individuals with different roles, playing critical roles in the delivery of the operational railway for passengers, making a difference to passengers. Ultimately that’s the end game.”

He added: “People are the lifeblood of the industry. Without the people you can’t have the innovations, you can’t have the solutions, you can’t have the delivery of successful projects. Recognising individuals and the contributions they make to the industry is very important. Those are the things that will set the benchmarks for other people to go out and improve themselves on an individual basis or as a team, as well.”

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