IET Railway Network: sharing experiences of Indian railways with members in the UK.
Working towards a better international understanding and outlook on its industry, the IET Railway Network welcomes two India-based members to the committee.
As a truly global professional institution, the IET is focused on breaking down geographical boundaries and supporting international collaboration between both members and staff.
In support of this, during 2012, community relationship manger (CRM) Deborah McKenzie put forward an idea to the Railway Network, suggesting that it might benefit from inviting a member from India to join the committee and attend its next meeting.
The committee agreed this was definitely a move in the right direction, but took the idea further by suggesting that to maximise the return on travel and hotel costs, this new member could also deliver a lecture during their visit highlighting the experiences and challenges of operating and upgrading railways in India.
“It was thought that by bringing some Indian volunteers onto the committee and sharing their experiences of Indian railways with members in the UK via a lecture presentation, this was an ideal first step towards developing a wider strategy,” says McKenzie.
In order to identify a suitable volunteer from India, McKenzie worked closely with IET colleagues Chitra Robinson and Tushar Chaudry based in the IET Bangalore office.
“I was aware they had already started to work closely with [the organisation] Indian Railways, with a view to them becoming an IET Corporate Partner, so I thought they would have the local knowledge of whom best to approach,” she explains.
“The IET has had a very good relationship with Indian Railways for some time now,” says Chaudry. “It already has a customised application form for IET membership, which is mapped to its staff grading system. I’m currently working very closely with the company to strengthen our relationship further and have it come on board as an IET Corporate Partner. I am also in discussions with the company to organise a three-day professional development programme for engineers in the first quarter of 2013.”
Through his contacts Chaudry was able to find and bring on board to the Railway Network committee two new members; Kapil Khanna from Atkins Consulting and Pradeep Srivastava from Indian Railways. Together they have visited the UK this January to attend the meeting and deliver their lecture at Savoy Place.
Rowan Joachim, chair of the Railway Network, is keen to highlight that it is the support and collaboration between staff and volunteers that makes the IET such a successful organisation, and allow these opportunities to develop.
“Staff support is of course essential – I don’t have the time to do all the work involved in setting such things up, plus I don’t always have the contacts necessary to achieve this,” she notes.
Still early days, the Network is hoping to build stronger international ties with colleagues across India. Once a final partnership agreement is signed between the IET and Indian Railways the Network hopes to explore future interaction in more detail.
“One of the potential ideas we did have for the future was to have a joint lecture tour of India with a railway theme using a speaker from the UK, which would involve the Railway Network and the Local Networks in India working together,” says McKenzie.
“I would envisage that if this tour goes ahead, then we could involve Indian Railways in some way, but as yet we’ve not had the opportunity to explore this further.
“But we would like to encourage members from all over the world, not just India to join the Railway Network, log onto its online MyCommunity area and take part in discussions, read news items etc.,” she adds.
Joachim is also keen to continue this move towards the Railway Network becoming more of an international entity.
“[Having committee members from India] will help us have a more international understanding and outlook on our industry as well as put on a more diverse range of events which will hopefully encourage broader audiences,” she notes.
“Hopefully we will be able to build relationships such that we can share learning and experiences and take them back to our companies. We are also hoping to put on versions of our very successful courses in India if there is an interest.
“I think it is important that the IET as a whole is a global institution,” she continues. “It gives it more credibility and permits greater networking, knowledge sharing and learning. It will also allow it to better serve its members and then take the steps to get engineers, technicians and technologists the respect they deserve in each locality and internationally,” she concludes.
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