Running buses is a people business, so the appointment of HR specialist Jane Reakes Davies as MD First Cymru, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Yet it’s still often the case that the traditional career route to becoming a bus MD, tends to be through engineering or operations.
Over lunch with Leon Daniels, she chats about the different perspectives of the role of a bus MD, and what it really means, along with her career transition into the MD role
First Cymru’s HQ is in the university city of Swansea and the 2009 introduction of the ‘ftr’ project saw a great deal of (largely since removed) bus priority.
Jane talks about relationships with local authorities and the business’ ‘social conscience’ – providing a service to customers with a commercial head, as the conversation turns to what role buses really play – retail, utility or ‘other’.
With a varied network – serving a city and deeply rural areas with two distinct customer groups – how to serve them, meet their aspirations and expectations, are chewed over.
Jane has enlightening views on the expectations of its teenage customers of what they want from an operator – and the answer isn’t what you might expect – and she expands of why now, is a really exciting time to be in the industry.
She also reveals who her ‘business hero’ is. At first blush it’s an unlikely choice, not only due to the industry they are in, but also as a person widely perceived as a ‘Marmite’ character.
This leads to a fascinating conclusion to lunch, with a revealing opinion about ways of engaging people and bringing in leadership skills from a very different sector.