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Kay Sharkey

Kay Sharkey
Service Delivery Manager, Newcastle & Downpatrick
Operations Graduate Programme
"The Programme provides an opportunity to experience working in a variety of departments which all work together to make a public transport company function, enabling you to expand your workplace skills and experience for future career progression."
Where did your Translink journey take you?
I started as a Graduate Manager in January 2009. Just over a year later I was promoted to the temporary position of Traffic Manager within NIR. I then obtained a permanent position within the Travel Centre as a Business Development Manager, before my most recent promotion to Service Delivery Manager in Newcastle & Downpatrick, which I have held since August 2013.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a First Class BA (Hons) degree in Education. I have also completed a CPC National - Passenger Transport, CPC International - Passenger Transport, CPC – Freight, I am a Qualified Assessor for EFQM and a Prince 2 Practitioner. I also hold a PCV and HGV Class 1 Licence.
The Company is currently sponsoring me through a Post Graduate course in Business Improvement at University of Ulster, Jordanstown (although I'm on a year out). I won an award for Best Performing Student in first year.
What did you think about the recruitment process and assessment centres for the Training Programme?
I thought the process was extremely thorough. By the time the process was complete, I had no doubt Translink knew who were the best candidates! What is also important is that by the end of the process, I was also 100 per cent sure that Translink was an organisation I really wanted to work for too.
We were given access to previous graduates to gain an understanding of how the scheme had worked for them, and the opportunities that the scheme had given to them. It was clear to me that Translink were keen to embrace new ideas and progress staff that showed enthusiasm for the job.
Translink has excellent opportunities for those seeking a career in operations, engineering, clerical or management.
Translink offers a Graduate Training Programme for our Operations and Engineering Graduate Training Programmes
What did the Programme involve?
The first year involved "getting to know the organisation and its people" and offering suggestions for improvement. You spend time with staff in many departments getting to know how their role helps the organisation. In my first year I gained my PCV licence, spent time in Head Office departments, cleaned and fuelled buses, worked alongside engineers in bus, and spent time in NIR understanding how it operates.
In Year 2, my placement was working within Metro. I spent 3 months working in Newtownabbey depot and was then fortunate enough to gain a temporary position as Traffic Manager for NIR which involved managing the signalling grade throughout Northern Ireland, a post I found both challenging and rewarding. This gave me excellent grounding and experience for future opportunities within the organisation.
What support/mentoring were you offered whilst undertaking the Programme?
The Graduate Programme Director was always available if I needed support or guidance. I was also appointed a mentor from the executive team who I found could assist and provide guidance when making decisions on career progression.
What opportunities opened up to you as a result of you undertaking the Programme?
During the Graduate Programme, you are asked to look at many business options for the company and make recommendations on whether the company should consider changing their how they operate. I was fortunate enough to be given a project to examine the viability of Wi-fi on our vehicles. With the help of my research, we successfully trialled wi-fi on our Cross Channel Services. I'm now very proud to see it has been spread out across our Goldline and Rail network, with great success.
What did you enjoy most about the Programme?
I enjoyed meeting all the people that make keep Translink 'ticking' and I gained a really good understanding of how the business operated. Particularly, I loved the interaction with the passengers and our staff. People are our business, our customers and our staff - they are at the heart of what we do. I did particularly love my time in driving school, and was so proud when I obtained my PCV licence!!
Welcome Aboard Video
Do you have any specific achievements as a result from undertaking the Programme?
As an "older" graduate, I had previously managed staff and businesses. I feel the Graduate Programme has undoubtedly strengthened my skills and made me a better manager of staff and of a business.
I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to project-manage special events including the provision of buses and drivers for the London 2012 Olympics, and the World Police and Fire Games 2013 in Belfast. Special events and times that I will never forget!
I'm also very fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to work with and manage a fantastic team in my own home area - Newcastle and Downpatrick. My team has developed a strong and growing Goldline service and a very successful Cairnshill Park and Ride. It just shows what success you can achieve when you work as a team.
What are your future career aspirations?
I am very happy in my present role as SDM in Newcastle and Downpatrick. I have a great team of staff who strive to achieve the best for the public and for our organisation. However, in the future, I'd love to be an Area Manager. If you work hard and do a good job, the sky's the limit in Translink!
What advice do you have for those considering applying the Graduate Training Programme?
Translink is a fabulous organisation to work for, with many opportunities afforded to you. It's an organisation with opportunities for you to progress within the many areas of the business. The choice is yours! Why would anyone choose to leave with such opportunities? Perhaps the reason we have such a low staff turnover.
Career Development
Translink offer excellent career development opportunities which you can apply for on a temporary or permanent basis. Training and development is also available, including developing personal development plans.