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"The railway industry is now a more diverse place and really rewarding."

How Avanti West Coast Train Manager Aaron Koduah is using his experiences to inspire others.

26 October, 2021

For the last six months, Avanti West Coast have been holding a series of engagement seminars  with young people about careers in rail. To mark Black History Month, a special panel was put together, with employees talking about their experiences in the workplace. Aaron Koduah, explained the importance of these sessions.

For me personally, Black History Month is an amazing way to create awareness of the immense contributions that black people have made to help shape our future.

At these panels we speak to pupils about our roles as well as our stories and that is really important to share these experiences.

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The day I attended my first rail recruiting event in 2015 after leaving the army, I opened the door of the room and I immediately closed it again. The reason was because I was the only black person among 30 other applicants so I instantly convinced myself that I would never get through. “Why would they choose the only black man”, I said to myself.

Whilst walking away, one of the assessors came out and asked if I was looking for someone. I told them I was very nervous, I was going home and I would apply again another time.

 “At these panels we speak to pupils about our roles as well as our stories and that is really important to share these experiences."

I didn’t tell her the real reason, but she encouraged me to come in and try my best. As a result, I was successful in the recruitment process. And my career in rail began.

This experience made me realise that I would hate for my own children or anyone else to turn down these great opportunities just because they were worried how the colour of their skin would influence the opinion of others.

This is why, like my colleagues who took part in the Black History Month panel, I have decided to get involved in the schools’ engagement programme. It will help make young people aware that the railway industry is now a more diverse place and really rewarding.

The job has been such a great experience so far and I have been a proud Winner of The Station Staff of the year 2019 award at the Railstaff Awards and also selected as one of the best employees of the year.

Work still needs to be done on diversity and inclusion with the industry should be actively encouraging the recruitment of people from all walks of life into every department.

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But I have a strong belief that if you love what you do and have the right attitude, then nothing should stop you from following your career path.

It gives me so much pleasure to help inspire, motivate and encourage the next generation to make sure they are aware that the colour of their skin, or whatever background they come from, should not stop them from choosing a career within this, or any, industry.

For anyone considering a career in the railways, I would always say follow your dream. Thankfully, I didn’t go home  that day and never looked back.

Images: Aaron Koduah at Crewe Station