Jo Foxall, Traveline Cymru Managing Director, has recently been crowned the winner of the Women in Transport award at the 2020 Wales Transport Awards. Originally joining the Traveline Cymru team in the role of Marketing Assistant 17 years ago, Jo has progressed within the organisation to her current role of Managing Director, which she held for the last three years.
As a woman at the top of her game in the industry, Jo talks below about how she balances life at home with life at work, how this traditionally male dominated sector has changed and the advice she would give to other women making their way in the transport industry.
Women make up 47 per cent of the UK workforce yet remain underrepresented in the transport sector accounting for only 20 per cent of workers. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s probably a perception that the industry is still traditionally male dominated, but that is definitely changing. From the Wales Transport Awards alone you can see that the public transport organisations across Wales boast a wealth of female talent in their workforces and are also implementing the flexible and agile working that attracts and supports all employees, not just women.
Since you started in the transport industry, how has it changed?
We are definitely now seeing far more talented and brilliant women in the sector in all types of roles, from the traditionally male roles such as driving and engineering through to senior leadership positions and all other types of roles in between. It’s inspirational for young women coming up through the ranks to have more female role models to look up to and learn from.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage more women into the industry?
I believe that more work needs to be done from ground roots, working with schools and colleges and talking to young people about the vast array of opportunities available in the transport industry. Work is being done through things like Transport for Wales’ new Graduate Programme, but I think it needs to start earlier with young children who are dreaming about what they want to be when they grow up.
What support have you had in your career to aid your progression?
I’ve been lucky to have supportive managers and a very engaged board who have championed me through the organisation and encouraged me to undertake training and development and take on bigger roles. I have also worked with a career coach and mentor who have helped me to believe in myself. Finally, I’ve had great role models in my family who have supported and encouraged me and taught me that the sky is the limit.
As a woman at the top of her game in the industry, what would you say to those women entering into the industry?
I would tell them to be authentically and unapologetically themselves. The industry does not need women who feel they need to behave like men to get by. Women have their own, very different strengths and it’s really important to use those strengths such as empathy and compassion, to develop and grow.
Who are your role models – either in or outside of the industry?
I have a number of personal and professional role models. First and foremost is my Mum who herself worked in a male dominated industry (pharmaceuticals) when I was little. She taught me that I can be who or what I want to be as long as I’m prepared to work for it. My Dad, who has a background in leadership development has very much instilled in me a love for learning which has really put me in a good position when furthering my career. My children are a daily inspiration to me…they are 6 year old boy/girl twins who were born at 28 weeks, they fought to come into this world and are the strongest and bravest people I know. My professional role model at the moment has to be Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister for New Zealand. Her human, empathetic, people first approach to the COVID crisis has been fantastic to watch and really inspirational. I feel we can probably learn a lot from her.
As a busy mum of twins and the MD of Traveline Cymru, how do you make it all work?
I have a fantastic support network. It really does take a village to raise a family (and do a job!) and I’m very lucky that I have a wonderful husband who probably does more than his fair share as well as great family and friends who live nearby who support and help with childcare when needed. I’m also fortunate to work for a company with great flexible working policies which allow us to recruit and retain great talent as people are able to achieve great things in their careers as well as not having to compromise on family time.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My aspirations for the future include continuing to navigate the business through the ongoing challenges that COVID presents and ensuring that a quality and joined up public transport information service remains to support those customers who need it and also to support the industry and encourage more people to travel by alternative modes. I am keen to continue to work with our customers and our talented team to grow our offering and diversify the information we provide to include more real time information, information about different modes and to generally add to our repertoire. With the emergence of Transport for Wales and all of the exciting and innovative projects being developed, the transport industry whilst challenging, is a very exciting place to be at the moment.