Rachel Jones, Transport Projects Lead, Delivery
"I enjoy working with people and helping them to make a difference, both for themselves and the wider public of West Yorkshire."
Can you tell me about your career background, progression and how you feel that has prepared you for the job you currently do?
Having graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Geological Sciences and a three-year period working in the oil and gas industry, I moved into the public sector where I have remained for the last 20 years. I started out as a project manager on a business support project at Barnsley & Doncaster Training & Enterprise Council (TEC). When TEC’s were abolished, I moved to my first stint at Metro, as a fixed term project manager on a rural transport project. Following this, I spent almost 10 years at Yorkshire Forward (Regional Development Agency (RDA)) as a programme manager on market town regeneration. Following the RDA’s being abolished, I spent a number of years in local authority, doing two part time roles at Barnsley on EU funding, and Calderdale as a programme manager on flood resilience and latterly the transport fund. I came to the CA 4 years ago, initially as a programme manager, then moving into programme development and scheme appraisal. These roles helped give me the experience and confidence I needed to secure my new role as Lead for the Transport Project team and following the opportunity to undertake a short secondment covering the Lead for Transport Partnerships role. And having worked in various project and programme environments, this helps me to understand what support and tools staff in my team require to help them achieve and develop themselves.
I enjoy working with people and helping them to make a difference, both for themselves and the wider public of West Yorkshire.Transport Projects Lead
What does your job involve and what do you enjoy about it?
My role focuses on leading the team in the delivery directorate that is directly responsible for Combined Authority led scheme development and delivery. The team comprises project management resources that bring expertise in delivery across a range of schemes. This includes new rail stations, new or improvements at bus stations, improvements to public transport infrastructure, and the provision of electric vehicle charging points at key locations across West Yorkshire. I enjoy working with people and helping them to make a difference, both for themselves and the wider public of West Yorkshire.
How do you find working alongside your team and the wider directorate?
The delivery directorate has some great people, and I really feel part of something special. The service areas and teams are working well together, and this will continue as the directorate matures through exciting new delivery opportunities. The team I am working with have made me very welcome and I look forward to working with them over the coming years.
What training / learning opportunities have you taken part in whilst at the Combined Authority?
I have completed various formal training opportunities at the CA – these include re-accreditation in Prince 2 practitioner (every three years), MSP practitioner and Better Business Case practitioner. As well as this more formal training, I have learned an awful lot whilst on the job, both from my line managers, colleagues and through mentoring. I think it’s important for me to be continually learning.
What do you like most about working for the Combined Authority?
The Combined Authority has a great approach to flexible working. Subject to the requirements of the individual role, staff can work to flexible hours and from different locations. Being conveniently based in Leeds city centre and close to the railway station is a big advantage to many employees. You also get an M Card, giving you free transport on most buses and trains across West Yorkshire, which saves on expensive parking costs and reduces reliance on a car.
Imagine you could go back in time to when you first started in your current role – what tips/advice would you give yourself?
I have only been in my current role for a short period of time – but the things I have thought about are focussing on leading the team you are responsible for and recognising a team is made of people, who are all individual and with different skills. Communication is a key skill required for the role, both in terms of acting as a conduit between senior management and the team and giving clear direction and support to staff where needed.