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Delivering change in the complex world of the rail industry

01 Jan 2018

IoD Talks to the MD of ScotRail

IoD Scotland talk to Alex Hynes from ScotRail about how they are able to deliver change in the complex world of the rail industry

Name:Alex Hynes
Position:Managing Director
Company:ScotRail Alliance
Number of employees:7,500
What’s the organisation about?The ScotRail Alliance is a partnership between Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland.

Career history

2013 - 2017: Managing Director, Northern Rail
2012 - 2013: Managing Director - Rail Development, The Go-Ahead Group
2007 - 2011: Commercial Director, London Midland
2005 - 2007: Strategic Planning Manager – Rail, The Go-Ahead Group
2004 - 2005: Policy Unit Manager, Office of Rail Regulation

1. What is the greatest recurring challenge you come across in your role, and what’s your strategy for dealing with it?

Creating momentum is the biggest challenge. My strategy for dealing with this is relentless communication, to ensure that people understand what we are trying to do, how we are going to do it and their role in making that happen.

2. Who, or what, drives you or inspires you?

Achieving results drives me. But I also like to make a tangible difference to people’s lives. Being able to run a railway service for a country is very rewarding, and allows me to make that difference.

3. What is your long-term vision for the organisation that you lead?

To be regarded as a great railway, and a company that does good for Scotland’s people and its economy.

4. What keeps you awake at night?

Making difficult decisions about people in my organisation. Delivering change is ultimately a good thing, but it can mean a lot of difficult decisions along the way.

5. What makes a good leader great?

Hiring great people, inspiring them and then letting them get on with it. That last part is important.

6. Have you had a mentor, and what did he/she add to your development?

Yes. He taught me that you should take charge of your own career, and produce a plan.

7. Even leaders aren’t the finished article. What’s next in your leadership development journey?

Delivering big change in an industry that is very complex and highly regulated.

8. What is the ‘next big thing’ that will transform your sector?

Achieving gender balance. The rail industry’s track record on gender balance has historically been poor, but we have an opportunity to really transform things in the coming years.

9. What piece of technology do you rely on most?

iPhone. It contains my emails, diary and Twitter, which are all key to the smooth running of my day.

10. What is your favourite social media platform, and what does it bring to your business/organisation?

Twitter. You can continually listen, engage and act on what your customers are saying.

11. What needs fixing?

We need to get Abellio ScotRail back into the black.

12. What leadership advice would you give your younger self?

Learn to listen to your gut instinct.

For more information, please contact

0131 557 5488


Branch and staff contacts can be found on the main Contacts tab

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