Holly Wallace Career Profile Picture

Role: Assistant Business Development Manager

Career Area: Strategic Sales

Location: York

My role at SYSTRA

My role at SYSTRA is to support the market directors in defining and implementing SYSTRA strategy for growth in the conventional rail, metro and light rail markets plus new areas such as energy.

I help to build and manage relationships with contractors and clients for key accounts. I also co-ordinate our external client events and conferences and provide input to marketing campaigns. I manage our pipeline and CRM tools and co-ordinate governance for bids and tenders.

My goal is to do all of the above and be able to link back to the disciplines at SYSTRA so that we have a holistic approach to winning work.

My career journey

My career path hasn’t followed the traditional linear route – I don’t have a degree and have changed jobs and industries multiple times over the years. I went from being a Library Assistant to working in broadcast media making TV shows for Channel4, BBC and ITV to working for a train operating company to working for an engineering design consultancy!

My current role in business development was suggested by my previous boss who saw my potential to move away from a business support role. She knew that I enjoyed communication and was a ‘people person’ so she provided me with an outline plan of how I could reach my goals… and the rest is history!

We asked Holly…
When did you realise this was the career path for you?

My lightbulb moment came a few years ago when I realised how my experience has allowed me to make lateral moves as opposed to climbing up the career ladder. I think anyone working in a business support function should view their role as one that allows them to broaden their horizons. I’ve never been too bothered about rising up the ranks or having a position of seniority; instead, my unconventional career path allows me the flexibility to change direction, learn new things and stay fresh in my way of thinking.

Have you got any words of wisdom for someone starting out in a similar role?

I didn’t start my career in the rail industry until I was in my 30s, so for me I would say that your career can begin at any stage of life. The rail industry is the perfect place to look at your transferrable skills and apply them to roles that appeal to you. Keep an open mind, grab everything that comes your way, look for mentors and don’t limit your options.

How does SYSTRA stand out from the rest as a Great Place to Work?

There’s so much opportunity to get involved in things outside of the day job – from being a Wellbeing Champion or part of the ED&I colleague engagement group, to getting involved in social events like Pride and entering awards such as Business Excellence. STEM engagement, volunteer days, Women@SYSTRA, Bridges to Prosperity – there’s an amazing number of initiatives and activities at the tip of your fingertips. On top of that, you get the chance to engage with other business units and be part of a Global organisation. C’est tres bon!

With such power in diversity, what unique perspective do you bring to the table?

I think I bring a level of creativity to my role. My role involves staying up to date with market intelligence and supporting with the development of winning capture plans for strategic prospects. I also provide input into marketing campaigns and co-ordinate a number of our external client events. I like to be creative in my approach and use different avenues to highlight SYSTRA’s USPs. Whether that’s making our presentation material eye-catching or utilising LinkedIn to bring our values to life. I am also a great believer in sharing and communicating with the wider business which, whilst not unique, is something I try to do differently so that the messages I want to get across are more impactful.

Where is the place that has inspired you the most?

I love Scotland, and Glasgow is a place that will always have my heart as you see the different shades of life there. It’s a place with grit and determination and a dark sense of humour. All things that have been part of my professional journey. It’s a beautiful green city (literally translated it means ‘dear green place’) but it also has areas of deprivation and poverty, which again have inspired me as I’ve had to struggle at points in my career, going from being a single mum on benefits and short-term contracts, to having a steady income.

What does true sustainability really mean to you?

To me, sustainability involves the small everyday actions you can take. I very rarely buy new. Most of my clothes are from charity shops. Next time you have a client meeting or a SYSTRA social event don’t go to ASOS or SHEIN. Get yourself down to a charity shop and find a bargain! I also recycle obsessively and compost as much food and garden waste as I can. I try to holiday local to reduce air miles and I tend to cycle, walk or take public transport to get from A to B.

What would a green future look like?

I think a green future looks at people over profit and uses technology to create a more inclusive, equitable economic system that operates within the environmental limits of our planet. I’d like to see more sustainable social housing. I’d like to see less cars on the roads and more affordable, clean energy. But for us to have a successfully green future, it’s going to require a collective voice with more people engaging and speaking up.

How do you look after your wellbeing outside of work?

Having grown up in Cumbria I am a bit obsessed with swimming in rivers and I love finding new places where I can jump off waterfalls! I would highly recommend Black Moss Pot Dub near Keswick. I also have a campervan, a dog, four kids, an allotment and an ever-increasing pile of books to get through, so I’m kept pretty busy outside of work and don’t struggle to relax once it hits 5pm on a Friday.

If you could spend your lunchbreak with someone you really admire, who would you choose?

Can I say Tom Hardy? I really admire him for obvious reasons.

If you had to pick, which mode of transport would you use for the rest of your life?

As rollercoaster is a highly impractical answer, then I guess it would have to be train as I love being able to stare out of the window as the landscape changes. It’s quite a romantic form of transport sometimes, although perhaps not the last train back from Leeds to York on a Saturday night…

> View all