2019 Leader of the Year

Leader of the Year sponsored by sponsored by Euro Bus Expo 2020

Winner, Gold Award, Damian Bannon – Translink

Consulting with the community in his first job as Research Assistant at Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, Damian Bannon recalls the excitement he felt to be working on a vision for Belfast travel. Two decades later, as Belfast Area Manager at Translink he was responsible for leading that vision, delivering a £90million investment in Northern Ireland’s first-ever diesel-electric hybrid Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Launched in 2018, on time and on budget, Glider has revolutionised public transport in the city and continues to herald unprecedented success demonstrated by a £2.7million revenue increase and 25% passenger growth. With over 22-years’ service at the country’s foremost public transport provider including almost 10 years in his current role with a team of 750, Damian oversees the development and delivery of Greater Belfast’s wider passenger network, including Metro and Ulsterbus. Passionately leading substantial change, Damian has been instrumental as the company achieved its best-ever results, recording over £30million annual passenger journeys. Damian’s high-energy and forward-looking approach has also spearheaded significant innovations, from reforming company culture and introducing award-winning safety initiatives, to investing in environmental technologies – all driving Translink’s commitment to being ‘Your first choice for travel in Northern Ireland’.

The judges were impressed with what they described as a detailed and inspiring nomination. They picked out Damian’s excellent stakeholder engagement and good business sense, alongside seeing the importance of continuous leering, addressing the gender balance, and being able to see the bigger picture. In short, commented one judge, he ticks all the boxes to be a good leader.

Winner, Silver Award, Raj Chander – Arriva Midlands

Back in 2017, Arriva Derby was in a dire position. The once thriving network was operating at a loss, and failing to achieve across a range of operational KPIs. Passengers were disappearing and the local staff were disengaged. The business needed a new leader. Someone with the strength of character, tenacity and experience to rethink, rebuild and rejuvenate the depot and deliver the people of Derby with an effective, efficient bus network that would meet their needs. Raj Chander has spent his whole career in the bus industry and thrives on driving success, even in the most difficult of circumstance. His reputation for strategic thinking, multi-tasking and team building made him the ideal candidate to lead Derby’s resurgence. The impact he has made has been tangible. From a loss making business in 2017, to one generating a 300% YOY growth, Raj has exceeded all expectations and truly transformed back into one of Arriva UK Bus’ most successful depots.

Described by the judges as passionate about his job, this person joined the company aged seventeen and has worked his way up to become general manager.

Winner, Bronze Award, Urvi Patel – Abellio London

Urvi is a standout leader in our business. In just under 4 years with us she’s learnt all about the bus business, worked in three different depots and completely turned around performance at our historically most difficult depot. She’s really good at motivating and developing her team; adding structure, process and consistency to all they do and, importantly, delivering some outstanding results. Her team now consistently perform, are clearly cohesive and all of that is translating into improved customer experience scores and reduced numbers of collisions so our customers are benefitting too.

In a very close run contest, praised by the judges for excellent people management and dynamic engagement with the team.

Highly Commended, Jamie Crowsley – Arriva Midlands

In a career with Arriva spanning 15 years, from bus driver to manager, Jamie Crowsley has proven himself to be committed to driving change in the bus industry – bettering services, improving customer experience, and developing closer partnerships within the community. He is constantly aiming to enhance and progress, undertaking various secondment opportunities within operational areas both the UK and abroad, and has shown himself to seize all development opportunities so as to bolster his core skills and knowledge. As General Manager for Shropshire, Jamie thrives. It’s a demanding role covering three distinctly unique locations, with their own specific challenges, and managing over 300 staff across a number of departments. But he does so consistently well, hitting and improving upon KPI’s year-on-year and devising new growth strategies in order to buck the trend in an increasingly challenging market.

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