East Coast managing director, Karen Boswell, scooped the prestigious ‘Woman of the Year’ Award at a ceremony.
The Women 1st Shine Awards are designed to shine light on women who are already making their mark in industry.
As Woman of the Year 2014, Karen Boswell now joins the elite Top 100 Club of Britain’s most influential women in hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism.
Speaking about her award last night, Karen Boswell said: “This award is one for the team; it’s for every one of my colleagues in East Coast who has helped to transform our business over the last five years.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have won this award, and we’re all really so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together to turn around this jewel in the crown of Britain’s railways.”
In an industry where women account for just 20 per cent of the workforce, Karen Boswell has made her mark.
She took over at East Coast in 2009, after the business had failed twice previously.
The Company operates long-distance rail services between London, West Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland on the East Coast Main Line.
Staff morale was at an all time low in 2009, but her conviction that the bottom line benefits when employee engagement is high, together with Karen’s relentless focus on the customer, has created a remarkable turnaround at East Coast.
Under Karen’s leadership, East Coast has created a successful business model and developed a people strategy that focuses on delivering talent and innovation.
At 91 per cent, customer satisfaction is the highest since records began on the line, and East Coast now holds the top customer score of any long-distance franchised rail operator in the UK.
And at 73 per cent, East Coast’s employee engagement rating is also a record for any previous operator on the East Coast Main Line; the Company is also now one of Britain’s most profitable train companies, delivering strong returns for the taxpayer.
Karen Boswell’s colleagues at East Coast describe her as “an authentic spirited leader” who has created a unique “Brand Boswell”, respected by her industry peers, and political masters alike.
Karen also supports and mentors other women in the East Coast business, and is an active member of Forward Ladies, which seeks to inspire women in professional life.
‘Women 1st’ was established in 2009 by skills and workforce development charity, People 1st, with a clear mission to have at least one female candidate on the long-list for every board or executive team position by 2017.
But the last word goes to Karen Boswell: “I’m really grateful to Women 1st, for shining a light on the place of women in business – and for supporting over 1,200 women though it’s training and mentoring programmes. And that’s just fantastic.”
East Coast is planned to be returned once again to public sector operation in March 2015, value-added, and in excellent commercial and financial shape.