David Waboso’s secrets of success
David Waboso, managing director of Group Digital Railway at Network Rail, featured in the Evening Standard’s ‘secrets of my success’ column. He reflects on his time at London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), before discussing his current role at Network Rail, where he is responsible for transforming the railway network using digital technology.
What is Network Rail?
The state-funded company that owns and operates the railway network in England, Wales and Scotland.
What’s your role?
My job is to transform the railway network using digital technology — signalling and telecoms — to get a better service for passengers and accommodate one billion more journeys by 2030. Smart technology means we can run more trains, more reliably, over the same amount of track.
What do you enjoy about it?
When you see jobs that you’ve worked on affect people’s lives in a big way. Whether it’s sitting in the cab with Victoria line drivers to iron out the problems or, when I started out, building a section of the M25, or water supply schemes in west Africa when I was at the World Bank.
What don’t you enjoy?
Of course there is stress when things are not going well. When the Victoria line upgrade was first finished it was very unreliable. The doors didn’t work properly and trains were stopping all the time. It was stressful but we came through it.
How’s your work-life balance?
It’s better now than it has been. When you are really climbing the career ladder, mid-career with young kids, that can be manic. I have worked with people who called meetings at 6.30pm when they knew I had young kids. That was wrong. Now my children are grown up and I am a grandfather. My wife and I love walking.
I’m a frustrated garden architect, I play jazz guitar and go to West Ham with my son.
Any tips for those just starting out?
Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability.
I wasn’t always dealing with the shiny new stuff: when I first started at the DLR I was in charge of a Poplar car park but I realised that car parking was very political so I really worked hard on that and that gave my boss the chance to give me something better to do.