Spotlight on Francesca Hand

Spotlight on Francesca Hand, Operations Manager

This week is RHA’s National Coach Week – The UK coach sector employees around 45,000 people across approximately 700 coach operators, handling 400 million passenger journeys, contributing around £6bn to the UK economy each year.

To celebrate National Coach Week, this week, the Women in Bus and Coach “Spotlight On” initiative shines a light on the incredible contributions of women in all roles across the coach sector.

Today we focus on and find out about:

Francesca Hand
Operations Manager
FlixBus UK

What is your role?

I’m Operations Manager at FlixBus UK and have been for just over a year.

How did you get to where you are today?

 I was always good at maths and science but also enjoyed creating things, so I started with a degree in engineering. I went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering at Warwick University because I found myself drawn to the business aspects of engineering and the principles of agile and lean manufacturing.

I began my working life with placements working on technical project management and then took a role in the logistics sector. After a couple of years, I was keen for a new challenge which offered more responsibility, which is how I came to join FlixBus!

Did you experience any challenges getting to where you are today?

I’ve worked in male-dominated industries my whole life. Thankfully, there have been no significant challenges so far, which suggests the sector has come a long way!

However, I think like most women, especially those of us who are younger, I do spend time considering how I express my opinion and position myself, to ensure I get the respect of men.

What do you like about the sector?

I love that FlixBus works with heritage businesses, often family-run for generations, with the new digital landscape. Some of our operator partners have been around for over 100 years, with decades of experience in providing great quality service for passengers.

FlixBus then brings a fresh perspective and model which offers new avenues for expansion. Working in partnership, we’re able to marry our technology with their local expertise to build an excellent nationwide coach network.

What does a typical day look like?

I spend a lot of my time at London Victoria Coach Station, the largest in the country. I am responsible for our stations team, who are the faces of our business.

Data analysis and sharing insights is a daily occurrence too, where I’ll use Flix’s digital software to evaluate customer feedback and punctuality data to then make improvements to our quality of service. I’ll also have several deep-dive projects at any one time, delving into what has the most impact on the quality of every journey. Everything I do comes back to boosting customer satisfaction.

Finally, I oversee the relationships FlixBus has with bus station partners and local authorities across the country. With over 60 destinations on our network, this has been a big part of my journey with FlixBus! I’ve led on delivering FlixBus branding to bus stations and airports, as well as providing technology to offer real-time information to passengers.

What advice would you give to women thinking about a career in the bus and coach sector?

You don’t need to know anything about bus or coach to join the industry. Bring the skills you have – anything you don’t know, you can learn. Modern, forward-looking companies will value your unique experience and perspective, so don’t feel you need to change your approach to ‘fit in’. Your ideas could transform the industry!

What has been your bus or coach sector career highlight?

Flix is a global company now operating in 43 countries, so one of my highlights was attending the FlixBus operations conference in Berlin. Over 100 people from operations and tech teams across Europe, the US, South America, and Asia attended. Participating in workshops, sharing ideas and knowledge, was of great benefit for all involved and highlighted the importance of face-to-face conversations and collaboration. I also got the chance to present some of our best practices on service quality here in the UK, which felt like a real milestone in my career.

What three things could the Bus and Coach sector do to improve the industry for Women?

  1. More access to mentorship – this has been hugely important for me, learning from women who have forged a path before me. Let’s celebrate the trailblazers and learn from them.
  2. Flexible hours and providing a work/life balance. In this 24/7 industry, there are opportunities for everyone to contribute. In tandem, we must consider other responsibilities that women have outside of work, especially when the burden of childcare often falls on mothers. We need to lessen this burden by allowing women to work around commitments, and not treat them as a negative.
  3. Keep checking in with the network of women around you. Encourage, support, and empower them to be proactive and have confidence in their abilities. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I’m just starting my career in the bus and coach industry, and I can already see so many avenues open to me in the future! But rather than looking too far ahead, I am trying to stay present, spend my time developing a broad range of skills now to ultimately benefit in the long run.

Thank you for sharing your story Francesca, you are truly an inspiration!

To find out more about who Francesca works for, and career opportunities visit: Careers at Flix | Jobs at FlixBus and FlixTrain.


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