In conversation with Noleen Thomas...

Posted on Monday, January 20th 2020

How did you find out about Traffix?
My uncle works in traffic management, so I searched online for opportunities and found the Traffix Apprenticeship Programme. I joined the scheme in 2016, initially with the Adjuvo Group, and moved over to Traffix in 2017.

What made you decide to become a Traffic Operative? I fancied doing something different. My background was pub management, which I had been doing for the previous 8 years. I’ve always been one for getting stuck into my work and the thought of a totally new challenge really appealed to me. So I decided to give it a go and have never looked back.

Noleen Thomas

How did you find integrating into the world of Traffic Management?
At first I was a bit apprehensive, as you are when taking on something totally new. But then I was put through the training programme and I achieved all my tickets, which enabled me to become a Traffic Management Operative. There were a few double takes when I first turned up, but I’d worked as part of a team in the pubs where you have to roll with the banter between staff and the punters, so I found it easy to get along with my new teammates. It’s been more of an eye opener when I’m on site... sometimes I’m mistaken for a Council supervisor by the works team and members of the public obviously don’t expect to see me on the roadside in a high vis and hard hat.

Can you describe a typical day?
I start between 6 and 7 am; we work a 10-hour shift. I will either report to our designated Balfour office or our main office, receive my job pack, load my van with the equipment I need and drive to the site. When I arrive I will liaise with the client and then set the job up. During the day I’ll be on site to assist the client if they need and then the job is stripped back and I return to the depot. I generally work on the Balfour projects, which means that normally there are two Operatives on site.

What element of your role do you enjoy the most?
Working as part of the team here at Traffix. I get on with everyone really well and we just click as a unit. As soon as you get in we’ve all got each other’s backs but we still find time for a friendly wind up or two. It’s like a family here, everyone looks after each other. I also like that I still get to interact with the public.

How do you see your career progressing at Traffix?
I have already been asked if I would like to become a supervisor. I have got my 1-5 tickets and the company would like me to achieve my M6 too. I am really keen, as I would like to see just how far I am capable of going.

Why do you think there are so few women in Traffic Management?
I think that there would be a lot of women out there who would assume it’s a man’s job and they might feel too intimidated to look into it. But it’s not like that, we all have a laugh and a joke but nobody steps over the line. Although I’m the only Traffic Operative employed directly by the company, we do have two other female Operative’s on our agency staff and as you can imagine we all get on really well. It would be good if there were more women involved.

Is there anything that the traffic management industry could do to become more appealing to women?
I think if there were more open days designed to encourage women to come and take a look there would be more interest. Particularly if I and other women who work in Traffic Management were on hand to talk about our careers. I feel that people don’t really understand what we do in general. For instance when I tell people that I work in Traffic Management they assume that I actually fix the roads, so I have to explain about road closures and other aspects of our work. As an industry I think we could talk more about what we do.

What advice do you have for any women considering a career in Traffic Management?
I’d say jump in feet first. I spent a year doing my apprenticeship and learning a trade. Even though you report to a Manager you are your own boss on the road, I like the freedom and the responsibility of doing my own work and being trusted to get on with it. It would be great to see other female Traffic Management Operatives join our direct team.