Sam Jordan in conversation with Rail and Transport Industry expert Bruce Kemp

Transport & Rail

Post pandemic, almost every company has now started focusing more either on survival or on re-engineering their business.

BWP brings you a new blog series “Industry Spotlight with BWP” in which we will be interviewing industry experts to understand their view of the industry, its current trends and challenges. In a recent interview with Bruce Kemp Director – Global Safety Certification and Regulatory Compliance, we discussed the current and future rail and transport industry trends in depth.

Sam: Can you give an overview of yourself?

Bruce: With more than 25 years of combined experience as a qualified pilot, aviation, rail industry professional and military veteran I can express myself as a highly talented global leader in business management, Health, Safety, Quality and Environment (HSQE), regulatory compliance and transportation operations in locations such as Australia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, India, Europe and the United States.

Considering the global exposure, I have worked in the development and governance of regulatory and policy frameworks, integrated management systems and operational performance systems predominantly in the Rail and Aviation sectors. With a vast experience in the field of business ethics, anti-bribery and corruption and leadership and management development, I am a fully qualified lead auditor, Transport Safety Investigator and fully qualified NVQ Level 3 trainer.

Sam: How does the Middle East Rail industry compare to the International Rail industry?

Bruce: As compared to international Rail Industry, the Middle East offers

right working conditions, a range of environments and systems to work with including the driverless metro systems of Dubai, Doha and Riyadh against the High-Speed Rail systems in Saudi and the continued development of the long-distance rail passenger and freight systems that will eventually span the GCC.

The light rail systems located in the Middle East from the trams in Qatar and the UAE to the automatic people movers at the airports and not to forget, Hyperloop is exciting! The technology is evolving rapidly, and recently after exciting announcements in the USA, it certainly is the fifth mode of transportation.

Sam: What are the unique challenges that you face in the region?

Bruce: Attracting and retaining talent continues to be a significant challenge. The COVID-19 situation has fundamentally changed the world, perhaps longer than what people realize. We must continue to adapt to our ‘new world’ which includes remote working conditions, ensure focus on building trust and be supportive of our people, providing environments for which they can learn.

Our industry continues to face challenges to attract female participation, where gender equality must also be a strong focus. Working in the rail industry is an excellent environment for both men and women, and we must continue to show that equity is both balanced and focused on making this industry thrive.

Sam:  What are the areas of growth opportunities you see for the sector?

Bruce: We can see the continuous evolution of technology in the sector. From hydrogen trains, drones to carry out preventative maintenance to construction of hyperloop projects are all just around the corner, which brings an incredible learning opportunity both for ex-pats and locals. For this, we need people to teach from an experienced professional perspective to continually develop the skills required to support the industry in which we work and to help it to grow.

Sam: How have you been affected by the recent pandemic and the economic slowdown?

Bruce: Luckily, we have been affected only marginally as Virgin Hyperloop is in the pre-revenue phase, so whilst not completely insular from the challenges. We are fortunate to have both the confidence and continued commitment from our investors, with the largest being DP World in Dubai.

Sam: What will you do differently as a business as a result?

Bruce: With the business perspective, remote working arrangements are here to stay, we must not only be more flexible, adaptable but also dependable to be able to accomplish the objectives when the face-to-face interaction is significantly reduced. We have continued to adapt both ourselves and our business to meet these challenges and the new reality of ‘social distancing,’ ‘wearing a mask,’ and ‘washing our hands.’

Sam: What advice or recommendations would you give to someone looking to enter the rail sector?

Bruce:  With an exciting journey all over the world from Australasia, South-East Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East it has been an incredible experience, and I would recommend people to drive the industry forward. There are endless opportunities from operational roles, technical and engineering, customer service and health and safety, so the industry caters for creators and innovators to movers and shakers. Hence, if this is what you are interested in, then the world is really at your feet.

Sam: What is the best and the worst thing about ex-pat life?

Bruce: Getting to experience different cultures and learning about how the rest of the world works is truly a fantastic experience for any ex-pat. But, when it comes to a downside of ex-pat life, you do get to spend quite a long time away from your family. You do get used to it, but when things happen, like sickness, it is always a challenge.

Sam: What are your biggest passion or hobbies outside of work?

Bruce: I have always been an aviation enthusiast and became a pilot! It has blessed me with the travel bug and being able to see the world (from the air) adds a perfect dimension to things. Though COVID-19 has devastated the industry, I can’t wait to see it thriving once again when we get through this pandemic.

Sam: Which is your favourite holiday destination?

Bruce: My favourite is Japan, as it has amazing people, culture, environment and the best transportation system in the world with the Shinkansen where everything moves so efficiently. And a visit during cherry blossom season (late March to early April) is breathtaking!

Sam: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Bruce: I was blessed to have such an amazing Father, and he will always be my biggest inspiration. He taught me very early “to get the respect you must earn it. And then when you have it, work hard every day to keep it!” He taught me the qualities of taking care of people, and I live by these qualities in my work and always maintain the focus on taking care of my people.

SAM: Excellent.

This brings us to the end of this interview. Thank you, Bruce, for talking with BWP. It is our pleasure to have you.