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Network Rail: Schoolgirl wins runners' up prize

Category: Industry News, Employer Focus, Network Rail, travel and leisure, women in IT

Network Rail: Schoolgirl wins runners' up prize

A 17 year old girl from The Perse School in Cambridge, has scooped a runners’ up prize in a national competition run by Network Rail, which aims to raise awareness amongst young women of the exciting breadth of career options in technology and redress the male/female balance in the sector.

Jennifer Potter is one of five runners’ up who beat around 200 girls aged 16-18 in the Could IT Be You? Competition, launched in 2013 by Network Rail group chief information officer Susan Cooklin, who believes passionately that careers in IT are widely misunderstood and misrepresented.

Jennifer’s winning submission explained how technology can improve our lives and make things better. She talked about online and video technology could help improve further education, in particular for those, like herself that have long commutes. She also created a tweet which said: “Because life can be easier #takecontroltech

Jennifer, four other runners-up and the overall winner will receive two weeks paid work experience and mentoring with the company’s IT team.

Commenting on her win she said: “I'm so excited to have won a prize in this competition. It will be an amazing opportunity and I am eagerly anticipating all that awaits in the year to come.”

Susan Cooklin, founder of the competition and Network Rail Group CIO said: "Popular culture has helped create a perception among young women that a career in IT is all about writing code in basement offices – the reality couldn't be further from the truth. All this year’s winners have showed a creative mind for solving problems and good communications, and these are the skills that business leaders are after. Congratulations to them all, and I can’t wait to bring them on board this summer where they will get a fantastic opportunity to see how technology is integral to the successful running of the railway.”

She added: “Technology plays an absolutely crucial role in moving 4.5m people by rail in Britain, safely and reliably, every day. This competition is a great way to help young women realise what a career in IT is really about and the fantastic career opportunities that a company like Network Rail can offer."

All the girls met TeenTech founder and former Tomorrow’s World TV presenter Maggie Philbin at a finalists day in February at Network Rail’s corporate office in Milton Keynes, where it’s IT strategy function is based.

Commenting on why girls aren’t choosing the technology path given how much it impacts on our lives, she said: "The rich variety of roles and opportunities within IT are poorly understood not only by students but by parents and teachers. There's a real responsibility for employers to do as much as they can to clarify what's involved and help students understand how they very much belong in this world.

"This great initiative from Network Rail is helping girls to see themselves in roles they may have previously discounted because they had a perception of rail as a male industry. It's not all hard hats and hi-vis jackets but an industry that needs good thinkers, people who thrive on teamwork and will derive satisfaction from solving infrastructure problems of every kind. It's a great industry and one where women can really make their mark."

The overall winner is Felicia Chang from King Edward VI High School for Girls in Edgbaston.

The five runners’ up are:

Millie Andrew, Kingdown school, Warminster, Wiltshire, aged 18
Eve Hesketh, The Duston School, near Northampton, Northamptonshire, aged 17
Jennifer Potter, The Perse School, Cambridge, aged 17
Kate Jameson and Lucia Anderson, both aged 17 and from Chesham Grammar School, Buckinghamshire

Are you interested in a career with Network Rail? Click here now!

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