Connecting with the Connected Leaders

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Dr Jenny Illingsworth, Centre Manager of BCRRE provides a summary of the connected leaders programme delivered on Thursday 9th February 2023 and information on how your business could benefit from this very programme or something tailored speacifically for your needs.

The Connected Leaders programme is all about the network crucial to a forward-looking, collaborative rail industry. Front and centre to its mission is “to make the railways work better as a system in the interests of passengers, freight customers and the UK as a whole.” Where better to contribute to this than here in BCRRE, showing delegates what innovation is all about and introducing them to the adoption of new technologies and the opportunities these offer for their businesses and industry.

We’ve been privileged to be part of the Connected Leaders programme for all 5 of its cohorts to date, with cohorts 6 and 7 already booked in for their innovation-focussed days. We’ve welcomed over 120 leaders from across the rail industry: from the public sector and private industry, from government to infrastructure and safety bodies, to manufacturers, operating companies, and consultancies.

What’s it all about?

We worked with Sarah Law consultant psychologist who has designed and delivers the Connected Leaders programme, to create an interactive day where delegates are presented with a selection of the research outputs from BCRRE and are challenged to consider how these could impact their own organisation. BCRRE’s research and innovation encompasses digitalisation and decarbonisation, and these themes are present throughout the day.

Ever popular is the Birmingham Railway Virtual Environment facility, where we have created digital twins for simulating railway operations: the opportunity to drive a virtual train is almost irresistible! And finding out about the power of harnessing the huge quantities of data which the railway collects, making sense out of it and finding ways to make the railways work better as a system, has sparked many an idea for new solutions.

But we don’t only look at engineering-technology focussed projects, however. The transport of the future, with rail as one choice amongst many ways for people and goods to get around, gives us the chance to look ahead into our crystal balls and remember we need to keep our eyes on the whole system. Finally, let’s not forget that, in order to do all these great things with technology, we need people who understand and can operate the railway. We take a session which looks ahead to the workforce of the future – skills and education needs to meet the railway of 5, 10 and 20 years’ time – and we discuss why so many people still don’t appear to be attracted to a career in rail.

What next?

Aside from looking forward to the next cohorts visiting Birmingham, we want to open BCRRE and its facilities to anyone interested. We already have interest from Connected Leaders delegates who wish to bring their own teams for a version of the day and this kind of welcome isn’t restricted. Any organisation working in any relevant field is welcome to come to BCRRE: we’re open for business, and we want to talk, share ideas and connect with anyone interested in new technologies, ideas and the workforce for the future rail and transport sectors.

Contact us to find out how we can put together a programme for your organisation.

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