Ben Gourlay, Customer Experience Strategy Manager, Network Rail


My name is Ben and I’m currently working as a Customer Experience Strategy Manager with Network Rail based in Edinburgh Waverley. Over the next 10 weeks I’ll be delivering an impactful project working alongside the Passenger Experience team to improve efficiency and satisfaction metrics within the station.

It’s been a whirlwind of an experience with a lot to reflect on. Let’s begin on day 1, my Saltire Scholar introductory day at the Network Rail Glasgow Central office. This was the first opportunity to familiarise myself with my peers on the programme and the people I’d be calling my colleagues over the next 10 weeks.

After a short networking session to introduce ourselves, the first talk was from the NR Scotland Managing Director, Liam Sumpter. Hearing about his journey and the twist and turns he had taken in his 22-year long rail career was fantastic as it left me feeling reassured that with the right mindset and skills you can go far in your career. Afterwards, three previous interns from the programme shared their experiences, particularly how daunting and unprepared they felt when they were starting out. Hearing how they shared the same worries I had, and now they are managing teams of 14 people, really put things into perspective for me. The passion and diversity of experience that each speaker had definitely gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get stuck in on my second day.

As I arrived for my first day at the station, I felt a looming sense of doubt like what was discussed on day 1. Looking back, these fears are completely normal. In fact, there is a common psychological experience called imposter syndrome that many of us will encounter at least once in our life. It’s described as a feeling of inadequacy or incompetence accompanied by a belief that you’ll be found out as a fraud. I believe that when we start something new and we’re given expectations, it’s easy to have a negative focus and fixate on our past mistakes, but in truth we are the worst judges of our own character.

What can you do about these feelings? Well, if I had to give you advice it would be this: You wouldn’t have been given the job if you couldn’t fulfil the tasks. For saltire scholar, I made an online application, attended an assessment centre, was interviewed, and given the job. After all the effort and work I had to put in, I had already more than demonstrated the skills that I would need to succeed in my internship.

The rest of my week was fantastic. I had the opportunity to meet the passenger experience team and I sat in on a meeting to discuss a full audit of the station space, the main project. I got to hear the complexity of ideas as different members debated on the best ways to proceed and I was even asked for my input. It was an amazing opportunity to be directly involved with a massive project, one that will have a significant impact on the whole station. The best part? The imposter syndrome had disappeared because being included in the brainstorming reinforced the belief my new team had in me and that they genuinely valued my contributions.

So, don’t be dissuaded by the first week of your internship, or job, or anything else. Learning and adjustment takes time, but as you progress and you find your rhythm, things will get better. In fact, that’s exactly how I feel right now. Already halfway through my second week, I’ve begun my project and I’ve already located the best lunch locations around the city as well!

Written by: Ben Gourlay
Ben Gourlay Network Rail 2Ben Gourlay Network Rail 1