Meet Chiaki Yamada, Group Leader for ETCS Design and Configuration at Hitachi Rail, as she shares her unique perspective on the rail industry, why she joined, her proudest career moment, and how she fosters inclusivity within her team.
My Career so far…
My passion for the rail industry started when I was in high school. There was a plan to construct a railway where I lived in the United States. Unfortunately, the residents voted against this plan because they didn't see the need for public transportation - they believed it was only for people who couldn't afford a car.
I believe that railways have an essential part to play in the future of cities; therefore, I decided to pursue my career in public transport and chose Hitachi Rail.
At Hitachi Rail I have many brilliant opportunities, but so far, one of my most significant achievements was launching the ETCS business in the UK, in 2014. I worked in London to create a solution to retrofit ETCS onboard signalling to Class 37 trains.
The project had its challenges, as although we were part of Hitachi, we were new to the industry in the UK, and it was as though we were working for a start-up company. But as a team, we worked hard and successfully secured what was, at that time, the first entry to the retrofit ETCS market. This innovation helped us develop Mito's ETCS onboard system in the UK and other countries such as Australia.
Encouraging Inclusivity in my Team
The team I currently lead consists of 20 people, which is truly diverse in age, gender, nationality and lifestyle. When I listen to a team member's story, I do so without judgment and acknowledge their situation. I believe in managing my team by providing a safe environment where the members can feel open to sharing their ideas. This enables them to take the lead on their work and focus on building a successful career.
The Future of the Rail Industry
What excites me about the rail industry's future is its growing importance in the future of our cities.
I strongly believe that having railways at the centre of cities around the world has such a positive impact on society, not only because it provides a solution to macro issues like climate change but also because having access to railways opens up the movement of people, people's choices and helps to provide equal opportunities for all.
Celebrating Women's History Month and International Women's Day
I am proud to be a woman in this industry and it’s important that it is celebrated more. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where it can be difficult being a woman and that's why on International Women's Day, I think it is so important that we celebrate and empower ourselves and each other - because we're a force to be reckoned with!'