2016 has been a big year for us says SNC-Lavalin managing director Richard George. In the company’s own words, it has been a year of transition. On 1 January 2016, the Derby-based engineering consultancy Interfleet became SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit after assuming the name of the company that acquired it back in 2011.

RailStaff spoke to Richard earlier this year. He had initially been anxious about what impact the re-branding could have on the company, but was subsequently buoyed by the early reaction. ‘Around the world the profile has now changed and that will take time to come through, but it certainly has not done us any damage at all and there are some opportunities that have been opened up as a consequence.’

SNC-Lavalin has continued to publicise its new image over the last few months, as it looks to grow its technical capability and workforce in the UK and overseas.

SNC-Lavalin sponsored this year’s RailStaff Awards Rail Manager of the Year category. A traditionally well-contested category, the trophy was presented to Heathrow Express’ Brian Keenan last year after he saved the life of a passenger and this year to Merseyrail’s Ian Taylor.

Below, Richard explains why the company is supporting this year’s event and what value he believes it brings to the industry.

Q: Why are you supporting the awards this year and specifically what drew you to the Rail Manager of the Year category?

2016 has been a big year for us – as it kicked off with our re-brand – adopting the name of our owning company SNC-Lavalin has given us the opportunity to go out and wave the flag a bit more than we might have done in other years. But as always, it’s also been a big year for the rail industry as a whole, with many things keeping us in the news.

The challenges of railways always take good management; we wanted to celebrate this, and sponsoring Rail Manager of the Year seemed like a good way to do so.

Q: Do you feel it is important to have an event in the calendar which recognises individuals in the rail industry rather than companies?

Absolutely. Our business is firmly grounded in the experience of our staff. It is their combined skills and experience which make us a leader in
our field. Each company – no matter what size – is made up of individuals, and it’s important to recognise this. At the end of the day, people do business with other people.

Q: In terms of retention and development, how important do you feel this sort of recognition is for staff?

Very important. We hold our own employee recognition awards internally, as part of our Great Place to Work initiative. Since introducing this scheme, we’ve seen staff retention improve and satisfaction levels increase. I think it’s fantastic that the RailStaff Awards do this on a bigger scale, on behalf of the entire industry.

Q: The RailStaff Awards bring together people from all different kinds of rail industry roles. Is there value in bringing together people in the industry who probably have very little interaction with one another normally?

Yes, 100 per cent. Occasions like this provide a great opportunity to network, meet new people and catch up with familiar faces that you haven’t seen in a while. Obviously it’s a social event so it’s not all about ‘talking shop’, but there will be lots of guests sharing experiences and swapping stories; and that is invaluable.

Photo: SNC-Lavalin’s Michael Grace (right) with this year’s winner, Ian Taylor.