Women in Focus - Driving opportunities for women in frontline leadership roles at Sydney Trains

In our “Women in Focus” series we’re sharing stories from across the Transport cluster featuring women who are making a difference.

We caught up with the Business Partners from Sydney Trains and the TfNSW Human Resources and Transport Shared Services team, who worked together to change their hiring approach for Station Duty Managers.

Station Duty Managers are critical frontline roles that lead teams to deliver great customer experiences at train stations. Angela Café, Lead HR Business Partner for Sydney Trains explained what prompted the change, which improved the diversity and quality of candidates including representation of female candidates.

“When we looked at the numbers we realised that female candidates were getting through the first few stages in the recruitment process, but they weren’t getting through the role play stage at the same rate as men. We asked ourselves ‘what can we do differently’ to address this?”

The solution involved taking a fresh look at the whole recruitment process.

The team worked with an in-house recruitment specialist to challenge their thinking and develop new scenarios that provided a gender balance.

“Some of the role play scenarios included dealing with a drunk and aggressive male passenger, so we changed them to be more gender neutral,” said Angela. “We added in other scenarios that allowed candidates to show their communication, conflict resolution and customer service skills.”

Another key to success was involving a really engaged hiring manager in creating the new scenarios. Suzanna Rahman, Assessment Consultant, said, “Getting the input of the hiring manager to help design the role play scenarios was really useful. By sitting them down and unpacking their ideas, we were able to come up with scenarios that really worked to identify the strongest candidates.”

The team also completely overhauled how they advertised the roles internally and externally to attract a more diverse mix of candidates.

Amanda Robertson, Team Leader Recruitment, said, “By revamping the job advertisement and updating the traditional selection criteria, we made the role more appealing to a broader range of candidates and removed barriers to external applicants. We also chose a well-recognised female Station Duty Manager and she agreed to be the face of the campaign to make the role more relatable.”

Changing the selection criteria was another difference that had a big impact. Jess McCrea, HR Associate Business Partner, explained why.

“We wanted to make sure the interview questions could measure the core requirements for the job and that both internal and external candidates were able to answer them well, so we asked managers to identify the five core capabilities that successful applicants needed. We made sure we ticked all those boxes, and removed any criteria that would disadvantage external candidates. We wanted to make sure that anyone who has the capability has equal opportunity to be selected for the role.”

The team also broadened their advertising reach internally and externally through Sydney Trains Weekly, Sydney Trains Intranet, and the Transport and Sydney Trains LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

The results speak for themselves. There has been 5% increase in female applications for Station Duty Manager roles, and an 18% increase in women recommended for the roles. Of the 13 successful candidates, 8 were internal, showing that there’s a great opportunity for our people to upskill and build a career at Transport.

And they’re already using these new approaches in other recruitment campaigns with great results. A recent recruitment drive for Customer Area managers using a similar approach saw 33% of roles filled by women, up from 12%”.

What was the key to success? Amanda puts it down to collaboration and leadership support. “Getting more ideas and people around the table was key - it wouldn't have worked out nearly as well without us all working together. And Sydney Trains was so supportive from the top down. We definitely had leadership sponsorship because we were doing the right thing for our business to set us up for success in the future,” she said.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with Jessica McCrea, HR Representative, Customer Service Directorate, Sydney Trains to find out more about what the team did and how you could apply their learnings to your own recruitment.


In our “Women in Focus” series we’re sharing stories from across the Transport cluster featuring women who are making a difference.

We caught up with the Business Partners from Sydney Trains and the TfNSW Human Resources and Transport Shared Services team, who worked together to change their hiring approach for Station Duty Managers.

Station Duty Managers are critical frontline roles that lead teams to deliver great customer experiences at train stations. Angela Café, Lead HR Business Partner for Sydney Trains explained what prompted the change, which improved the diversity and quality of candidates including representation of female candidates.

“When we looked at the numbers we realised that female candidates were getting through the first few stages in the recruitment process, but they weren’t getting through the role play stage at the same rate as men. We asked ourselves ‘what can we do differently’ to address this?”

The solution involved taking a fresh look at the whole recruitment process.

The team worked with an in-house recruitment specialist to challenge their thinking and develop new scenarios that provided a gender balance.

“Some of the role play scenarios included dealing with a drunk and aggressive male passenger, so we changed them to be more gender neutral,” said Angela. “We added in other scenarios that allowed candidates to show their communication, conflict resolution and customer service skills.”

Another key to success was involving a really engaged hiring manager in creating the new scenarios. Suzanna Rahman, Assessment Consultant, said, “Getting the input of the hiring manager to help design the role play scenarios was really useful. By sitting them down and unpacking their ideas, we were able to come up with scenarios that really worked to identify the strongest candidates.”

The team also completely overhauled how they advertised the roles internally and externally to attract a more diverse mix of candidates.

Amanda Robertson, Team Leader Recruitment, said, “By revamping the job advertisement and updating the traditional selection criteria, we made the role more appealing to a broader range of candidates and removed barriers to external applicants. We also chose a well-recognised female Station Duty Manager and she agreed to be the face of the campaign to make the role more relatable.”

Changing the selection criteria was another difference that had a big impact. Jess McCrea, HR Associate Business Partner, explained why.

“We wanted to make sure the interview questions could measure the core requirements for the job and that both internal and external candidates were able to answer them well, so we asked managers to identify the five core capabilities that successful applicants needed. We made sure we ticked all those boxes, and removed any criteria that would disadvantage external candidates. We wanted to make sure that anyone who has the capability has equal opportunity to be selected for the role.”

The team also broadened their advertising reach internally and externally through Sydney Trains Weekly, Sydney Trains Intranet, and the Transport and Sydney Trains LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

The results speak for themselves. There has been 5% increase in female applications for Station Duty Manager roles, and an 18% increase in women recommended for the roles. Of the 13 successful candidates, 8 were internal, showing that there’s a great opportunity for our people to upskill and build a career at Transport.

And they’re already using these new approaches in other recruitment campaigns with great results. A recent recruitment drive for Customer Area managers using a similar approach saw 33% of roles filled by women, up from 12%”.

What was the key to success? Amanda puts it down to collaboration and leadership support. “Getting more ideas and people around the table was key - it wouldn't have worked out nearly as well without us all working together. And Sydney Trains was so supportive from the top down. We definitely had leadership sponsorship because we were doing the right thing for our business to set us up for success in the future,” she said.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with Jessica McCrea, HR Representative, Customer Service Directorate, Sydney Trains to find out more about what the team did and how you could apply their learnings to your own recruitment.


Tell your story

You need to be signed in to share your story.

  • There are no stories to display. Why don't you share one?
Page last updated: 17 June 2019, 23:30