National Coach Spotlight Michelle Gonza

Spotlight On Michelle Gozna, Professional Coach Driver

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:

Michelle Gozna
Bakers Dolphin
Professional Coach Driver

How did you get to where you are today?

My journey began 20+ years ago when I went on a holiday by coach, the driver was brilliant, he looked after us all very well and was very professional. I decided that if I hadn’t already started my career in the Police then being a Coach Driver would have been what I wanted to do.

Forward on to now, having retired from the Police in August 2023 after 30 years, 23 of which were on the Traffic Department and having a love of driving, basically anything I can get my hands on, I wondered if the idea I had all those years ago could be a reality.

A phone call to the only company I wanted to work for, the same one from my holiday all those years ago, started the very quick journey to obtaining my PCV licence.

Within days of passing my test I was taking customers on a trip to London Shows, and also a concert at the NEC.

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

If so, how did you overcome them?

The only challenge I found was keeping my nerves in check whilst going through the tests you need to complete, as you go through the stages to obtain your licence. I’m not good at tests but with the right revision aides, which you’re given, providing you put the work in to learn, I found the tests not as bad as I’d expected, and I even relaxed into them.

What do you like about the sector?

I enjoy the driving, I like the variety of work, each day is different. I like the politeness of the children who all say thank you as they get on or off the bus. I enjoy chatting to the customers, but best of all I’ve achieved what I always wanted to do…drive a coach! I’m inwardly grinning every time I set off!

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day will be the checks on your vehicle before you set off, then heading out to collect the youngsters who need taking to school or college.

There might then be kids to take swimming or on a trip out.

If you’re taking a day trip somewhere then there’s route planning, looking at traffic reports, working out the best way to go. Looking at parking when you arrive at your destination and working out your driving hours and importantly looking after the customers, making sure they’re happy.

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

If you can drive a car, you can drive a coach, yes, it’s longer, wider, taller but you soon get used to that. Give it a go, if you don’t try then you’ll never know and could regret the decision.

What has been your bus or coach sector highlight?

Highlight so far…as of now I’ve held my licence since the end of February! Passing everything is a massive highlight! Being out for the first time on my own and driving around London within 3 days of passing my test!

The lovely comments about my driving are a bonus too! My friends wonder how I’ll cope without blue lights and sirens!

What three things could the bus and coach sector do to improve the industry for women?

Attend career days at schools and colleges or have ride a longs for people to spend the day with a driver. Or try a vehicle day on private land.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In 5 year’s time I’d love to have been given the opportunity to take tours abroad, I love travelling and exploring new places and finding things to do off the beaten track.

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

To find out more about who Michelle works for, and career opportunities visit: Careers – Bakers Dolphin

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