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Hear from Martina Lazzari, Head of Railway Bidding, to get the story behind her professional journey. She began her career as an Energy Management Engineer, then progressed to Hitachi Rail in the role of Head of Bidding Processes, for our billion-dollar rail projects.

Martina describes the complexities involved with the bidding process, which is the stage where all our projects begin. Whether with new customers or those that we have an established relationship with, her team bid for new Hitachi Rail contracts. Projects range from supplying new technologically-advanced vehicles for an existing railway, to participating in a turnkey project for the design of an entire metro system in a city which previously relied on car transport.

Read on to find out more from the Head of Railway Bidding at Hitachi Rail, in our recent discussion…

What does a Head of Bidding do?

The bidding team manages a very important function which discovers new business opportunities and projects.

My team works closely with the sales team who are continuously identifying new opportunities and tenders across the globe to help build the order pipeline for Hitachi Rail. As Head of Bidding, it is my role to support senior management to assess the tenders, and if viable, to organise a dedicated team and manage the bidding process throughout its lifecycle. My team has experts from various parts of the business including technical, legal, industrial, compliance, quality and many more.

How did you navigate your way to Head of Bidding role in the railway sector?

Born and brought up in Lucca, Tuscany, I grew up in a family of technical and scientific professionals. I followed the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) path and chose to study Energy Engineering.

My attitude has always been - every day brings a new challenge, and it is my job as an engineer to find the solution. I started my career in a small company helping them with energy management. In a small firm, there are not many specialists, so I had to multitask to get things done. This experience suited me well and let me extend my knowledge!

Soon I came across a job advertised from Hitachi Rail. The commercial department needed a technical person to join their team. I applied although I had no prior experience in railways or in bidding.

From the first day, I loved my job. It has been very challenging and required me to align with teams across the business. It involves processing huge amounts of data, an eye for detail and a willingness to sometimes stay up late to see a bid through to completion. But at the end of it all, it is a hugely satisfying role. I have been in bidding for almost seven years and have handled bids across the globe.

"The most exciting project that I have been involved in was bidding for the Washington Metro project - it was a huge project, which was a new challenge, and my manager trusted me to lead it. It was complex and it ran during the pandemic, but my diverse team pulled together and we won the bid!"

What are the skills required to become a successful global bid manager?

Bidding is a complex process; a global bidding team member must undertake projects from countries around the globe. It is different in each country. In Italy for example, the process is quicker compared to other countries. Within a few months of submitting the bid, you will know if you are the preferred bidder and you have the results. But in some parts of Europe and the US, it can take up to two years, after which the customer will often ask for a second bid and more negotiations. As a bid manager, I need to be strategic in selecting the bids to participate in.

It takes patience and perseverance first and the ability to work with very different departments to get all the required information. Then, you need to analyse the company’s past experiences delivering projects. Other skills include the ability to work in large teams, the aptitude to process lots of legal and technical information, organisation to meet deadlines and a strategic mind. A key aspect of submitting a proposal is to create a close-knit team that is clear about the goal - and the bid manager is the crucial role for this.

What is your advice for young professionals and women thinking of joining the rail sector?

My advice to both is the brave and curious - believe in yourself!

You are unique and when you bring that unique perspective to a business, you can make the difference. I had no rail experience or complex bidding experience, but I was always eager to learn and willing to work hard. Think outside of the box and remember that courage changes everything!


Martina Lazzari

Head of Railway Bidding