In the deep south of Invercargill, Anna Skerrett is creating her own path in a field traditionally dominated by men. At just 21, Anna’s role as a Rail Operator for  KiwiRail is not just a job—it’s a testament to the industry’s shifting dynamics and an example to other young women contemplating non-traditional career paths.

Like many women who work in the trades, Anna’s journey into the rail industry was unexpected. After finishing her education, Anna thought she would join the  police force. However, life had different plans. “It was my flatmate, already employed by KiwiRail, who introduced me to this opportunity,” Anna says. Once she  joined KiwiRail, Anna underwent two weeks of rail school, earning 50 credits and officially beginning her career in rail operations.

A Day in the Life of a Rail Operator

Anna’s daily tasks are as varied as they are challenging. Working outdoors in all conditions, she coordinates with different teams to separate wagons and deliver  them to various customers. The job is physical and primarily outdoors — from manual handling and walking to coupling and decoupling wagons, and even  conducting pilot and brake tests. Despite the rotating rosters that stretch from the early hours of the morning to late at night, Anna loves her job and advocates for women who want to join KiwiRail. She also notes the camaraderie and teamwork. “We have an awesome team down here,” she says. “We all get along and  have a social club — it’s super tight-knit.”

Beyond the Tracks

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Anna enjoys camping, swimming, running, fishing, and barbecuing. These hobbies offer her a respite and balance to the physically  demanding nature of her work. Yet, what truly stands out is her commitment to advocating for rail safety and promoting KiwiRail as a viable career path for young women. Anna has visited schools to teach track safety and discuss career opportunities, aiming to inspire the next generation.

Charting a Path Forward

Looking ahead, Anna sees many career opportunities with KiwiRail. She says there are opportunities to advance to roles such as remote-control operator,  mainline driver starter, mechanic, signals, and maintenance. Yet, it’s not just about climbing the career ladder. Anna’s personal life is equally flourishing, with  recent milestones including purchasing a house with her partner and planning a trip to Europe.

Advice to other women considering joining the trades?

Anna’s advice for young women considering trades? “Go in with an open mind and try your best.” It’s a simple yet powerful message reflecting her journey —  one marked by an openness to opportunities and a willingness to work in a traditionally male-dominated area.

Considering your next move – join KiwiRail!

If you’ve ever followed KiwiRail’s Facebook page, which we highly recommend, you will see that the company is dedicated to being an inclusive, flexible, and  supportive workplace where everyone can feel valued, respected, and have equal opportunities to succeed.