My Placement, My Piccadilly!

By Chelsey Duchaussee

Hi everyone! I’m Chelsey, a 3rd-year Business Economics student, currently on placement at Network Rail, based in Manchester Piccadilly station. I started placement on the 9th September 2019 and it has been a major learning curve. I’m elated to be a digital content ambassador once again, to share my placement journey with each of you!

About Network Rail – Manchester Piccadilly Station

Network Rail owns and operates Britain’s railway infrastructure. They manage 20 of the UK’s largest stations while all the others (over 2,500) are managed by the country’s train operating companies. Within the North West and Central region (‘Backbone of Britain’) is Manchester Piccadilly station which came to the city in 1830. It’s now the busiest of five Manchester stations, with 14 platforms.

Piccadilly station has a passenger satisfaction level at 92% due to its comfortable and modern information, various retailers, and restaurants. Some Network Rail roles at the station are: Customer Service Assistants, Security Officers, Station Control Assistants, Station Shift Supervisors and Station Shift Managers. The common goal amongst all staff members is to put passengers first while keeping everyone safe.

Settling in…

Reality began to set in when I decided to give myself a bedtime, in order for me to wake up refreshed and ready for the working day. My flexible working hours allow me to get in between 08:30 and 09:00 and leave at 16:00 or 16:30. This flexibility comes in handy when either the trains or myself are a bit delayed.

My ears got a bit of a shock at Piccadilly as unknown station lingo was all that I heard, not forgetting the many train destinations I’ve never heard of before. “Foxtrot Mike to any available Charlie Charlie….”, “There’s a points failure outside Piccadilly station today…”, or “Passengers please board the front train for Llandudno” … I’m not sure which was harder, learning all the radio call signs or trying to pronounce ‘Llandudno’ with my Trinidadian accent. From my first week, I knew I was about to learn a variety of different things, both operational and geographical.

Another aspect I had to become acquainted with was the constant flow of employees on shift. As the station is open 24 hours a day, there are early, late and night shifts. During my first two weeks of training, I met some of the team members. However, the next time I was able to catch up with them was a month later due to the various shifts. Three months in, I believe I’ve met 63 current employees (hopefully).

Truth be told, my first week at Piccadilly wasn’t a cool walk in a park. Entering such a busy and dynamic environment, brought with it feelings of dismay and whether my placement year will turn out to be what I expected it to be. I didn’t dismiss these feelings as I knew it was all part of my adjustment and that soon everything would fall into place. Thankfully, the management team and my Network Rail placement mentor have been very supportive and helpful in my transition.

Three months later I am fully into my role as Operations team member, covering all different areas of Station Management and truly enjoying my time at Piccadilly.

My current projects

One Team Piccadilly Newsletter:

I was given the job to design an internal newsletter for the entire station. As Piccadilly aims to improve the passenger experience, teamwork amongst all stakeholders are essential. Therefore, the newsletter acts as a catalyst to bring all the stakeholders together. I’m very proud to have released the first issue of this newsletter on Friday 9th November. Moreover, this project has allowed me to utilise the knowledge gained from my marketing modules (MKTG 101 and MKTG 234), ensuring that the design and content are fit for the audience.

Team Chart:

I’m also currently working alongside Station Management to have three team charts installed around the station highlighting its 80+ staff members. This project is quite extensive as it requires portraits of each staff member, who works on various shifts. However, it allows me to interact with each staff member and learn a bit more about their roles. I’ve also been able to put into practice the content learnt from my OWT modules on staff acknowledgement and teamwork.

There are more plans in the pipeline, including some ‘mini-placements’ at other Network Rail offices but I’ll save those stories for later in the year!

My final thoughts

I’m very pleased with this general management placement, giving me a greater appreciation for my Business Economics degree. Thus far, I’ve been able to apply my knowledge to areas such as marketing, human resources, customer relations and operations.

Looking forward to the rest of my time here as I learn more and develop myself holistically!

Read part 2 of Chelsey's placement blog