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Glasgow Business . 21

ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Phil Verster on having a mission statement that you work to make a reality



t is vital for businesses to have a clear idea of what their mission is and that it can be stated simply and in a few words. Tat is a strong belief of Phil Verster,

Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance who gave a well-atended Glasgow Talk in March. “If your business can’t give in five or six

words what your business is about then you’re in trouble as a business,” he told the audience at the Blythswood Hotel. He said that ScotRail’s mission was to:

‘Deliver 125 million customer journeys by 2025.’ Mr Verster said that there were many

strands to delivering that, but that was the mission which he was trying to make a reality and that was shared across the whole of the ScotRail business rather than “just being management speak”.


• Customers have great journey experiences • We offer products that our customers value • Increasing our customer choices • Our customers trust us and know that we listen

It was absolutely central to delivering on that mission statement that middle managers in his organisation made the right decisions, he said. “Te real thing about running a business

right is making quality decisions,” he said. He said that what he questioned himself on was whether he had given his team the right kind of direction to enable them to make quality decisions.


• Customer care first • We improve what we do • Run a service that is safe and punctual • We are one team • We treat money as if it’s our own

He said that one thing that he did every week was to travel on a train and to announce who he was and then go up and down the train geting comments from the customers whether complaints or praise. Mr Verster said that he encouraged all his

managers to do the same in their parts of the business. He said that really listening to what

customers had to say and, if possible, making small changes to improve the service from the points made by customers. On the work on the Queen Street Tunnel

which is disrupting travel from the station, Mr Verster said: “It’s painful but it’s a once-in-50-years investment in the tunnel at Queen Street.” He pointed out that the work was part of a

major investment programme in rail that was greater than any other part of the UK. “Tree years from now Scotish railways will be transformed in terms of investment,” he said.

He said that Abellio is investing £475

million in new trains and that £750 million is being invested in the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme. Mr Verster said that he had been a student

leader at Stellenbosch University, a traditional stronghold of the apartheid system, when they had called for change in South Africa and in particular the freeing of Nelson Mandela. He said that the “small part” they had

played in changing the apartheid system had shown him that small changes could bring about major transformations.

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