Excellent public transport systems would not be possible without the efforts and leadership of dedicated managers across the sector. From operators, to organising authorities, and industry workers, our managers need to put forward strong action plans, project proposals and a shared vision to advance public transport in our cities.
UITP’s flagship training course, Diploma Programme for Managers in Public Transport, an expert-level yearlong course composed of three modules in three different countries, has been supporting some of the greatest managers in our sector for many years.
We thought it would be interesting to have a chat with some of our alumni from this training programme, to see where they are now and what advice they have to give to future (or current) managers in public transport.
First up, Jacob Kam, Managing Director of Operations & Mainland Business, MTR and Vice President of UITP as the Chair of the Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly, is a graduate of the very first edition of the Diploma Programme for Managers in Public Transport!
What are some of the challenges in your daily work as a manager working in the public transport sector?
In my experience, I see four major challenges:
1. Ever-increasing customer expectations for better travelling experience, travelling environment, more frequent service and 100% on-time performance.
2. To raise enough resources to upkeep daily performance, and more importantly to continue on-going capital investment into the existing railway assets.
3. To deal with political interference of day-to-day professional management of the railway, while keeping focused on customer service.
4. To introduce new technologies by overcoming the conservatism among some regulators against new technology.
What are some of the important skills and values you want to instil in your team?
I encourage a variety of important skills: leadership and vision; resilience to external interference; professionalism and determination to pursue excellence; enterprising; and agility to change.
You were in one of the first diploma training programmes from UITP on Managers in Public Transport. As a graduate, what were some of the key takeaways you remember getting from this programme?
From the programme, I had a deeper understanding of the real financial challenges to public transport projects and operations, and a better understanding of how different modes of transport can better interact and integrate for city development.
Could you name a few of your proudest achievements as a manger in public transport?
We successfully implemented a full asset management system for our railway assists. We have also brought our customer service methods, operations management and asset management systems to a number of cities where we operate.
It all comes down to dedication, hard work and a bit of luck.
What advice would you give to those beginning their careers in public transport and interested in advancing to a managerial position?
It all comes down to dedication, hard work and a bit of luck. Remember, opportunity favours those who are prepared.
The Diploma Programme for Managers in Public Transport includes case study teaching with cases from Harvard Business Publishing based on real public transport facts and situations developed by world leading universities like Harvard University.
Register now for the early bird rate until 25 July!
In order to help us better understand your training needs, we invite you to fill in a short survey (5 minutes). Send us your replies before 30 June and we will offer you a discount of up to 150€ applicable on your next training programme.
Interested in like-minded professionals working in rail? Don't miss out on the International Rail Conference and SITCE (9-11 July) in Singapore!