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Hear from Valentina Galli, Senior Innovation Engineer at Hitachi Rail in Naples, to understand her journey from a Verification & Validation Engineer to driving digital innovation within the mobility sector...

Valentina, you started at Hitachi as a RAMS Verification & Validation Engineer and you are now heading the Quality Control and Compliance team within the Digital and Lumada Solutions vertical. What was your career journey and what does innovation mean to you?

It has been an amazing journey of 11 years in Hitachi Rail (four as an external consultant and seven as an employee) and this year for me is a special year, as I am becoming a first-time mother.

I started as a Verification & Validation Engineer, then moved to the innovation team, and now I am heading up compliance and validation within the Digital & Lumada Solutions vertical. Innovation is central to what we do here and for me innovation simply means improving quality of life - digital technology is how we achieve this.

In Hitachi Rail, and in specifically within Digital & Lumada Solutions, we are going beyond just the railways in our thinking. We are thinking and working on how we can improve the entire transportation environment.

When we say this, it is a paradigm shift from the operator’s point of view to the passenger’s point of view. This is where digital innovation plays a huge part. We can improve passenger experience if we can map passenger movement, identify and analyse bottlenecks and add functionalities to ease the passenger flow. We aim to provide new and enhanced travel experiences. And that includes solutions like smart ticketing, and my commitment is to ensure the quality of the solutions we propose as a Digital Development and Operations team.

Can you explain your academic background and professional experience? What were the key skills that helped you progress?

In school I chose classical studies, literature, Greek and Latin. This I think helped in developing imagination, creativity and free thinking. My father is also an engineer; I have always been attracted to the engineering studies, so it was natural for me to opt for engineering at university level. But before joining Telecommunications Engineering at Naples university, I wasn’t sure which branch of engineering I wanted to study in. A career related seminar at our high school, was helpful because they spoke about satellites and mobile communications which had me fascinated. Personally, I have always been very curious, even as a child, and I love working within a team.

I joined Hitachi Rail as a RAMS Verification and Validation Engineer, which helped build my knowledge in railway systems. And as someone who loves working with people and leading teams, my communication skills have really helped. It’s important to be good at what you do and also believe in yourself.

What was it like to work in the innovation team?

I worked with the Head of Innovation, Leonardo Impagliazzo, and Paolo Sannino and our team comprised of bright minds - everyday brought new learnings. For example, I did not learn anything about AI in college but in this team we were discussing and working on innovative projects involving AI, machine learning, cloud computing and the use of drones to capture and transfer large volumes of images of tracks.

"Whilst innovating, it’s important to have an element of fantasy and to have an open mind - but also analytical thinking. I worked to take all the ideas and slice them with the team into actionable items"

I think all these experiences have come together in my present role. The good thing about working in Hitachi Rail is that there are so many opportunities to learn and grow and to collaborate with other Hitachi companies in the Hitachi group. For example, I am working with Global Logic and Hitachi Vantara within the Digital & Lumada Solutions projects.

What is it like working in a predominately male dominated sector?

In the validation team, we had many female engineers. But in the innovation team, I was the only female employee. My advice to people looking to join engineering companies is – no matter the gender - it is important to be strong minded, whilst also being brave. Sometimes you may have self-doubt that you may not be good enough - still put yourself out there. Be brave!

To find out more about careers at Hitachi Rail, please click here to visit our careers pages.


Valentina Galli

Senior Innovation Engineer Location: Naples, Italy