“I spent 20 years with my former employer in the insurance industry. I started in a part-time retail position and worked my way up to Learning Business Partner. Leaving the only place I’d ever worked at was tough and I worried my skillset wouldn’t be transferrable to other industries,” she says.
Renee quickly landed a comparable role in the rail industry and after only eight months was promoted to Driver Training and Development Manager.
“My role is quite varied and I am passionate about my fantastic team and our strategic vision,” she says.
“We are responsible for the training and qualifying of new drivers but at the same time we have to balance the delivery of state projects with our existing driver workforce. There are around 30 major projects I’m working on over the next three years that will impact rail infrastructure.
With more than 500 drivers on staff, V/Line is expanding their workforce to service growing communities in regional Victoria.
Driver training falls into two categories based on experience. Off the street trainees have no rail experience and require 73 weeks of phased training which includes classroom modules, driver simulations and practical experience on the live network.
“Sometimes we train drivers from other networks around Australia or overseas. These Conversion drivers only need half the training – around 44 weeks in total,” she says.
In 2021, the first all-female driver trainee group started in Melbourne.
“We had eight women from non-rail backgrounds including an army major and a stay-at-home mum learning to drive,” she says.
“It is not just the driving that trainees need to master… they need to familiarise themselves with our rollingstock and learn every line from the hub at Southern Cross Station to five regions around Victoria.”
It took time for Renee to discover rail, but now she couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
“We are on the cusp of creating real change amongst the workforce and to be part of the team influencing a cultural shift is amazing. The opportunities in rail are endless and I never would have discovered this if I was still in my old job,” she says.