Young Manager of the Year 2015

Sponsored by: CILT logo 

This Award focuses specially on the talent we will all rely on to deliver our bus services for the next 20 years and more: the young managers, currently delivering and planning services at the sharp end - but whose skills will be vitally important over the coming years as the bus increasingly comes to be seen as an aid to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

Winner, Gold Award:

Martin Gibbon - Stagecoach South

Starting as a graduate trainee in 2011, Martin Gibbon began running Winchester depot in 2013. Quickly earning respect from his managers, peer, staff and stakeholders, he is passionate, committed, has a zest for perfection and a real desire to serve the customer. Further promoted in December 2014 to additionally manage the Andover depot, Martin is on track for career success in the eyes of Stagecoach. Martin now has responsibility for 90 buses and 150 staff spread across two depots, which are 20 miles apart. He has quickly developed a mature, confident and friendly management style and established good working relationships with staff and the Trade Union, despite having difficult disciplinary decisions to make. Martin's newly introduced staff newsletter has made employees feel more part of the team and Martin has formed strong and successful partnerships with Winchester City Council for which Stagecoach operates Winchester Park & Ride. Martin has managed to get the council to pay for extra resources in the run up to Christmas when traffic and passenger volumes are high. Since January 2015, Martin has developed and mentored a new assistant manager who is in his first management role and Martin has put considerable extra effort into building relationships wih the commercial and engineering departments. In the eyes of his stakeholders, Martin has become 'Mr Winchester Bus' - fast yet positive work.

The judges were extremely impressed by Martin's attitude and approach as well as by his achievements. They were confident of a successful continued career in the industry ahead finding Martin to be a true professional already.

Winner, Silver Award:

Jessica Mills - Arriva Yorkshire

In a short space of time, Jessica Mills has proven to be an extremely valuable member of the Arriva Yorkshire senior management team. Working for the marketing department, she leads the company's growth programme and she is required to manage key relationships inside and outside of the business, linking heads of department, depot management and frontline staff, making sure everything runs smoothly. She took forward the launch of Sapphire on the 110 Leeds to Wakefield route, which involved over 35 drivers, 17 buses, stakeholders, customers, press, celebrities, performers, caters and a pyrotechnic team. Her ability to lead successful, ambitious projects, and confidently manage stakeholder relationships, is exceptional. Her commercial flair is balanced with a creative talent that brings fresh, new innovations to the company and the industry. Jessica has been instrumental in the creation and introduction of MAX - a concept redefining the interurban network of express services across Yorkshire and the North East. Living and breathing the brand, Jessica has created marketing that places technology at the heart of the messaging and ensures perceptions of bus travel are truly challenged. Routes are already seeing revenue growth year on year of 5%.

Jessica shone out to the judges for her impressive marketing acumen, achievements and zeal as well as her passion for challenging and changing perceptions towards bus travel. They were particularly impressed by the scope of her marketing of the MAX brand with such a small budget including involving and winning over a considerable range of stakeholders.

Winner, Bronze Award:

Will Pare - Arriva North East

Will Pare is Operations Manager of the Stockton depot for Arriva North East meaning he ensures that 170 drivers and 70 buses operate 11,500 miles to get customers where they need to be. He joined Arriva on the management graduate programme in 2012 and has transformed positively the environments he works in. His enthusiasm and professionalism set him apart as being committed to improving service delivery and providing the very best journey experience for customers. In the past 12 months since joining Stockton, Will has seen a 25% improvement in lost mileage and great rises in punctuality figures which he provides on a personal basis to drivers so they understand that everything they do has a direct impact on customers. His core aim is for all employees and passengers on the routes to smile and since he joined, employee satisfaction increased to 72% in 2014. Will has also worked closely with the team at Arriva Yorkshire to actively change and improve the business and during his secondment there, where he led the project to achieve Investor In People Gold status which came to fruition in 2013. He has also been awarded Newcomer of the Year at Arriva North East. For Will, a multi-modal approach is the future for transport and bus travel.

The judges were highly impressed by Will's charm, energy and enthusiasm, not least in wanting to put a smile on fellow employee's faces as well as to customers.


Rob Hughes - First Manchester

Rob Hughes has been Acting Business Manager of First Manchester's Bolton depot since the start of 2015, and is also leading a project to introduce a busway to Manchester city centre. During 2012, Rob was part of First's award-winning transport team in the London 2012 Olympics. As Staff Manager at Manchester Queens Road depot, he was heavily involved in a business improvement project, when he focused on coaching drivers to help reduce DriveGreen scores. An approachable manager, Rob has a strong reputation for being fair, consistent and appropriately challenged when needed. He also works closely with Bolton College to promote careers in the bus industry. Rob has been the driving force behind Bolton depot's performance improvements during a challenging year of ongoing pay negotiations and divisional restructure. He also coaches his colleagues and peers and seeks to encourage fresh thinking.

The judges were impressed by Rob's tenacity, diligent attention to detail, and his commitment to making a difference.

Laura Smith - Stagecoach North East

Laura Smith is responsible for operations at a busy city depot within a demanding and highly competitive environment in the North East of England. As Operations Manager for Stagecoach's Sunderland Depot, she leads a team of 203 driving and 14 administrative staff. Laura approaches challenges in a calm and considered manner. She has quietly and efficiently made operational improvements, demonstrating you don't need to be 'flashy' to be a star performer. She provides leadership to her team of supervisors and drivers and sets quality standards as well as making sure that numerous regular tasks are completed to sure the smooth running of the depot. Laura spends time with her supervisory team to help them deliver their skills. One young Duty Manager under her mentorship has become an Assistant Operations Manager in Scotland. When things go wrong or potential problems appear, Laura looks to identify staff concerns in order to find solutions. She takes a collaborative approach, but is not frightened to make a decision even if some team members disagree and will take time to explain her reasoning. Notable KPI achievements in her first year at Sunderland include 99.7% reliability and 96.3% punctuality in 2014/15 and reducing staff sickness by 23%.

The judges were very impressed by Laura's calm, can-do approach, her quiet efficiency, and her strong leadership all during a time of upheaval in Tyne and Wear for bus operations.

Who could be nominated?

This Award was open to all managers under the age of 30 who:

  • lead an organisation or major business unit in a professional capacity
  • own and operate their own business employing more than five people
  • work in a local authority, government department or quasi non-governmental organisation with functional responsibility for more than five staff

and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from all eligible organisations, both of their own employees and of outstanding young managers with whom they work in partnership or as stakeholders. Self-nomination was not permitted for this category.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges will reach their decision on the quality of the written submissions made by the nominating organisation.

Short-listed entrants were required to make a presentation to the judges and be interviewed by them.

Nominating organisations must be able to demonstrate that the nominees have shown excellence in management and leadership and that this has been recognised by them.

Nominees must be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to manage complex tasks, people, processes and the environment in which their organisation operates
  • Effective communication skills with both staff and stakeholders
  • A commitment to mentoring or other leadership activities
  • Demonstrable ability to perform to a budget.

Short-listed finalists were required to make a 10-minute presentation either:

  • on the role of their organisation in the community and the wider transport market, or
  • on a subject of their own choosing relevant to the transport industry

And to answer questions from the judging panel (also 10 minutes).

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