Kamini Edgley, Director of Engineering and Asset Management at WISE Strategic Partners, Network Rail.
Even from a very early age, growing up in Mauritius I’ve always loved problem solving and inherently that’s what Engineers do, they continuously improve and provide better solutions to the world.
So, naturally, this led me to choose maths, physics and chemistry in further education, particularly at A-level.
One thing I think a lot of young students don’t realise until it’s too late, is that continuing to pursue science subjects is really important to ensure you don’t rule yourself out of opportunities later in life.
In 1992, I moved to the UK and studied electrical engineering at the University of Leeds. It was there that I met my very supportive husband who actually introduced me to the opportunities within the rail industry. He was sponsored by British Rail at the time and told me about their graduate scheme. I haven’t looked back since joining the railway as a graduate trainee in 1997.
Fast forward 23 years and I’m now a director of engineering and asset management. My background is predominantly in engineering, maintenance, operational programmes and project delivery. I’ve led billion-pound, complex engineering and business change programmes.
A different perspective
I’d definitely say that having my daughter Sara in 2012 gave me a different perspective on work and life in general. Having spoken to many women in the industry we agreed that, in the past, you’d almost feel guilty about having a child or wanting to start a family. Thankfully that’s not the case anymore.
I always say the railway is like one big family. It’s a wonderful community to be part of and has provided me with endless opportunities.
Inspiring the next generation of engineers
While I’m passionate about delivering major programmes that improve the reliability and efficiency of the railway and raising a family, I’m equally passionate about inspiring our next generation of engineers.
In the past people have often had to rely on knowing others within the rail industry to understand what’s available – like me and my husband.
I want more young women in particular to know about the opportunities within this fantastically varied industry. In the current coronavirus pandemic, railway workers are identified as key workers by the government, as we help other key workers travel to work, keep power stations operating and move vital goods (like food and medical supplies) by rail.
Talking to young girls about STEM
Network Rail has a fantastic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ambassador programme, which I am a part of.
You only need to look at the statistics to know there’s more we need to do to educate girls and young women about the opportunities when you continue STEM subjects into higher education.
In February this year I was involved in the opening of the first STEM learning facility in Network Rail’s Milton Keynes office. This facility not only provides a dedicated space for local students and members of the community to get involved in STEM-based activities, but also helps to tap into our colleagues’ knowledge and enthusiasm for STEM subjects.
We need more women in this field. The opportunities are there, but we need to start from the beginning and show what steps are needed to get there.
I’m proud to work for Network Rail who passionately advocates for diversity and inclusion.
Join WISE and be part of a forward-thinking network of companies and organizations that are taking action to increase the number of women in STEM.