National Apprenticeship Week 2021

Friday 12th February 2021

Shannon Fox, Planning ManagerWho are you?
Shannon Fox – Planning Manager at Bournemouth Traincare depot.

What did you do before applying to become an apprentice?
I was studying health and social care after leaving school.

Why did you decided to pursue a career in rail? And why was a SWR apprenticeship your preferred route?
I was studying full time at college after leaving school as it seemed to be the best route at the time, however I quickly realised that the idea of going to university wasn’t something I felt interested in. I came across a poster at my local station advertising for engineering apprentices and thought about what an interesting career move this could be. I had never considered working in the railway, but thought “I’ll apply and see what happens”. I enjoy learning new skills as I like to keep my mind busy and thought this would be a great opportunity to do so.

What was the most enjoyable part of being an apprentice?
I enjoyed the varied work placements and getting to meet new people – the apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to meet people from all departments and from other companies SWR work with. I’m a very sociable person so this was definitely my favourite part of my time as an apprentice!

How has your career progressed since completing SWR’s apprenticeship scheme?
Since completing my apprenticeship, I have continued to develop myself, working at Bournemouth depot where I was based for the duration of my apprenticeship. Once I completed my apprenticeship, I was offered the position of MB2 and was promoted to MB3 the following year. I then started covering the Team Leader role for around 3 months, before the opportunity for a permanent position came up. During this time, I gained confidence and realised how much I really enjoyed the role, despite not really considering it before. When the Planning Manager position came up, I saw another opportunity to apply my existing strengths to a new role and to learn new skills - I’m always striving to improve myself.

What responsibilities do you have as a Planning Manager?
In my current role as Planning Manager I am responsible for the movement of trains around the depot and taking the necessary action to ensure service requirements are met. I work with a team of operations staff at the depot and I also liaise with SWR fleet control based in London.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of applying to become an apprentice in the rail industry?
It may seem daunting at first, but if you’re interested in starting a new role, or if you’re keen to take the next step, I would encourage you to apply. When you see a job description, don’t feel like you have to know it all or tick all the boxes before applying. There will likely be training to start, and progression comes with experience. When I first joined as an apprentice, I didn’t see myself being where I am today!