International Women's Day - Friday 8th March
15 days ago
Bluestar and Unilink parent company Go South Coast is marking International Women’s Day - Friday 8 March - by celebrating the work and careers of some of its rising stars.
The local bus operator is proud of its diverse workforce, and actively encourages women to build successful careers within the transport industry.
“In the past, our industry has been largely dominated by men, but that is fast changing, as we look to recruit the very best talent - and gender just doesn’t come into that decision process,” said Go South Coast managing director, Andrew Wickham.
“Those wishing to join our team can choose from a wide range of roles - from driver to marketing or engineering - and each offers its own mix of challenges and rewards.”
Bluestar assistant operations manager, Chrysie Papanicolaou, was born in Southampton, so knows the area inside out. With responsibility for the bus operator’s entire workforce operations - Chrysie oversees recruitment, the day-to-day running of the business and service standards across the region.
She began her career with the bus operator when it was called Solent Blueline in 1989.
“I saw my opportunity to obtain my PCV licence at that time - and I haven’t looked back since,” she said. “After progressing as a driver for the company, I worked alongside operations, commercial and assistant operations managers from 2003. And, in 2010, I was appointed operations support supervisor.
“Now, I’m loving my role as assistant operations manager. My career has been incredibly enjoyable in a field vastly underrepresented by women. I hope my progress will show that - male or female - it is possible to excel within the bus industry as long as you have the aptitude and determination to succeed.”
Also assistant operations manager, Kerrie Grant is responsible for the running of Bluestar’s sister company in Southampton, Unilink.
Kerrie joined the company from another operator within the Go South Coast family, Salisbury Reds. Before that, she spent time with First in Southampton - completing the firm’s graduate scheme, with stints across the UK.
“My graduate training involved getting to grips with different areas of the bus industry,” she said. “Taking the reigns at Unilink was a fantastic opportunity for me - particularly as I was on the ‘other side of the fence’ as a student regularly travelling by bus when at university in Stirling. Because of this, I’ve been able to gain a better understanding of the needs and wishes of customers here.
“Succeeding within the bus industry isn’t about being a man or a woman. It’s about being a perfect match for the job. I love what I do, and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
International women’s day is a focal point in the movement for women's rights. Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is key. International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.
Bluestar supports the fair treatment and reward of all employees, irrespective of gender including addressing the pay gap between men and women working across its businesses. Flexible working policies and shared parental leave have been introduced. Over the last two years, Bluestar have begun implementing a culture change programme, intended to improve communication between leadership teams and customer-facing colleagues with a view to building an open and agile environment.
In the future, Bluestar intends to introduce purpose-driven, development-focused career conversations alongside succession plans. Mentoring and development programmes are to be provided for women managers and executives, and unconscious bias training is to be made mandatory for all managers.
Improving gender balance has been established as a key priority across Bluestar. Making sure equality is at the heart of our organisational culture is a key part of our action plan.
Bluestar have female colleagues throughout the business - Drivers, Service Supervisors, and Assistant Operations Managers to name a few. We gathered some of those female colleagues, who help our business strive daily, for a photoshoot.