Trains are in my DNA

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Dr Emma Baker-Langman (She/Her)
Dr Emma Baker-Langman (she/her)

Dr Emma Baker-Langman, Project Director talks about her specialist interest in systems thinking and her take on being a neurodivergent individual in the railway sector.

Ever since my first train set in the 1980s, I have had a fascination with trains. Later, this expanded to include other critical infrastructure like roads, water systems and power networks. No surprise then that I ended up with my lifelong  special interest being systems thinking.

“My career has been varied and I have often found myself perplexed and confused by unwritten social rules. I seemed to be so much more emotional and upset by rejection than my peers. I put this down to some (significant) childhood trauma and eventually received a diagnosis of CPTSD, which started to make some…but not full…sense.

“When I received my diagnosis for combined-type ADHD last year, I decided to try medication. Suddenly, I was experiencing life on “cheat mode”. Like many late-diagnosed people, I had a grief response about what could have been. And then realised that I had a lot to celebrate.

“My brain has served me well, overall. The things that I have found difficult have made me empathetic. The things I find easy have made me find creative solutions to complex problems. 

“I love learning about other people and what matters to them. And that is so important to our industry. We exist for direct customers (passengers) and indirect customers (consumers of goods moved on our network). I am excited to see what innovations will happen in years to come as we get better and better at combining all our brains to find better ways of working and meeting customers’ needs.

“During the keynote at the Neurodiversity in Rail Conference I will be reflecting  on the origins of our industry, and the ingenuity that is the root of ‘engineering’. I will talk openly and frankly my own story, and touch on the highs and low of our industry’s story. I will also share data and information that I hope will set the conference off with plenty of energy and food for thought.

Overall, my message is one of determination and of hope. Our planet, our nation, and our network, are all under enormous and unprecedented pressure – but I do believe that, working together, we still can create a positive legacy for future generations”.


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