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Meet Iain, Service Engineer, Zonegreen, UK

Iain joined Zonegreen after an extensive career in the British Army. He is now using his mechanical skills gained from years of repairing military equipment to keep railway workers safe.

Iain, Zonegreen service engineer at a railway installation

In a nutshell, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Growing up in a mining town, near Sheffield, I was not particularly good at school and thought I would follow my family and friends down the mines. The unexpected end of the mining industry in the ’80s lead me to change my plans. 

At 16, I decided to join the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). My military career spanned 22 years and I gained valuable skills and qualifications, including a Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

Every three years there was a new location and fresh challenges, from maintaining wheeled vehicles to servicing tanks. I enjoyed the different postings across Germany, Canada, Kenya, and the UK.

At 40, as my army tenure approached its end, I started to look for opportunities in civilian life. After a few different jobs, I received the support of fellow veterans who recommended me to the rail industry. I first joined EMD, maintaining an electro-diesel locomotive. A colleague who had moved to Zonegreen contacted me and recommended me for a job.

Iain in Bosnia, 1998

What does a typical day look like for you?

I joined Zonegreen as a technician in 2015. My role involves inspecting and servicing the equipment we have installed at rail depots nationwide. Every six months, I ensure our solutions are operational, efficient, and safe.

My role is to examine them and make any recommendations for maintenance if needed, working closely with the engineering team. It’s a job that combines my mechanical expertise with a passion for solving problems. I enjoy travelling around the country during most of the week and resting at home on the weekends.

There are a lot of ex-military in the railway industry. When I visit a depot, I always bump into guys I worked with 15 years ago in the army. It really creates a bond and facilitates working together.

What do you enjoy most about your role and the company?

In the army, I had a nomadic existence, but one that instilled discipline, adaptability, and camaraderie.

At Zonegreen, I enjoy the collaborative spirit and mutual respect among my colleagues. There’s a shared understanding that each role, no matter how seemingly minor, contributes to the collective success of the organisation.

What is your most memorable project?

My most memorable project was in the army during the Winter Repair Programme. One of the largest training centres of the British army is in Alberta, Canada. In the coldest months of the year, temperatures can drop below -30 C.

The extreme cold can have a destructive impact on the material, so we carried out vital repairs on all the equipment. All the equipment was back in the workshop, and every single vehicle was completely overhauled to prepare it for the next training season. I remember those six months fondly, at weekends we could go skiing and explore the Rocky Mountains. It was a brilliant experience despite the cold and wind.

Could you share a fun fact about yourself?

Outside of work, I enjoy long-distance running and have completed numerous half and full marathons. I usually run one a month. I even tackled the iconic London Marathon during COVID-19. We did it virtually, running 26 miles wherever we wanted. It was a fantastic experience. Running helps me not only with my physical fitness, but also with mental clarity.

Iain at the Silverstone half marathon