LOST Group, the technology-led matching service owned and operated by transport professionals, has teamed up with Passenger Transport to identify top transport talent blazing a trail in 2024


John McArthur, Founder, LOST Group writes – Welcome to Lost Group’s Ones to Watch 2024 where we feature some of the best and brightest professionals working within the UK transport industry today. We decided to compile this list to celebrate talent within the sector we love and to provide an opportunity for the people working within transport to recognise their colleagues.

Our team were overwhelmed by the huge response and the large number of nominations received. Many congratulations to those mentioned here, making it onto the list means you not only excel at your job but are recognised by your peers as going above and beyond.

I should also say from the outset that our Ones to Watch is neither complete nor exhaustive. We appreciate there are hundreds (indeed thousands) of dedicated professionals that deserve a mention. Hopefully, the individuals you see here are a snapshot representing the deep talent pool within UK transport – the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

Our thanks go to Rupert Cox, Gemma Cusworth, Giles Fearnley, Nafisa Nathani, Nigel Stevens, and Alex Warner who lent their time vetting nominations. This ended up being a far more involved and difficult task than we had expected and suffice to say there were more than a few lengthy debates along the way!

The publication of Ones to Watch coincides with the anniversary of Lost Group’s growing network of transport professionals (free to join at www.lost.careers). Lost Group exists to transform the way in which the transport industry finds and retains the best people using proprietary technology to help professionals and companies make better employment decisions. Later this Spring we will be launching our first software offering to UK operators. We’ll announce more details on that in due course so watch this space.

And now for Ones to Watch 2024…!




Ellie Burrows (pictured)

Three successful years as route director in Anglia paved the way for Ellie to become managing director of Network Rail’s Southern region in 2023. Ellie also held the role of train services director for Southeastern and chairs the Chartered Institution of Rail Operators and the RSSB System Safety Risk Group. Ellie is seen as one of the most experienced and innovative railway operations professionals of the modern generation.

Louise Cheeseman

An experienced strategic transport leader with a comprehensive background in both public and private sectors, Louise is currently the founder and chair of Women in Bus and Coach. She has demonstrated expertise in driving business results, implementing sustainability strategies, and leading
large-scale projects in complex environments. She is renowned for people development, stakeholder engagement, and advocating for equality, diversity and inclusion.

Tom Joyner

With over three decades in the rail industry, Tom is one of the most experienced managing directors in the sector. His operational background, rising from the ranks of a conductor, through various management positions, is second to none. Tom is hugely regarded for his continuous fixation on developing the customer proposition at intercity operator CrossCountry Trains and for the way he has galvanised the business since joining in 2019.

Zoe Hands

Zoe has enjoyed a hugely versatile and impressive multi-modal career which started in logistics at DHL, before she moved to aviation in a safety capacity at Heathrow Airport where she spent six years. Zoe joined Network Rail in 2012, then Merseyrail, a Serco/Transport UK joint venture, in 2015 and became safety, security and sustainability director before moving to operations director in 2017 and ultimately being promoted to
chief operating officer a few years later. She left last year to be managing director for First Bus covering the Midlands, Manchester and South Yorkshire.

Peter Knight

Seen as a trusted pair of hands, Peter got the call in 2023 to move south from his role heading up Stagecoach’s business in North East Scotland to become MD of Stagecoach’s challenging and high-profile business in the South West of England. A former graduate trainee, Peter has previously led Stagecoach’s joint venture Scottish Citylink subsidiary.

Victoria Storey

A graduate from Essex University, Victoria has risen from the frontline as customer ambassador at Exeter St Davids, through station management roles to chief of staff at Great Western Railway. In 2024, she starts a year-long secondment as business manager for Network Rail’s Western route director, Marcus Jones.

Claire Mann

Claire’s meteoric rise continues as she trades her role as managing director, South Western Railway with that of COO, Transport for London in 2024. A previous stint overseeing TfL’s bus contracts and in directorship roles at TOCs have helped make Claire one of the ultimate multi-modal experts in UK transport.

Ben Ackroyd

An outstanding career which included just under eight years at Angel Trains, led to senior roles for Ben at National Express and Northern Railway as its engineering director. He then became managing director at train operator c2c, where he managed effectively during the Covid period, which was particularly challenging for a largely commuter-centric railway. He became chief operating officer at Porterbrook in March 2022.

Simon Mohammad

Formerly head of operations at Cardiff Bus, Simon moved to First’s Hants, Dorset & Berkshire business in 2018 and immediately made his mark with his zest and customer focus. Currently, service delivery director for First’s Somerset Passenger Solutions subsidiary, Simon’s dynamic approach to people management has earned him plaudits.

Carol Sim

Winner of the Route One ‘Rising Star’ Award in November 2023, Carol is often acclaimed as one of the best leaders of her generation in the bus sector. She made a real impact with her customer focused approach as head of operations, First Bus South and shortly takes on the role of operations director, Stagecoach South where she is sure to bring her customary energy, dynamism and empathetic leadership approach to her new post.




Ruth Busby OBE (pictured)

Ruth was named as ‘HR Director of the Year’ in the HR Personnel Awards and since joining GWR in 2018, she has been an industry trailblazer, particularly in shaping the Rail Wellbeing Live concept. As a non-executive director of the Youth Futures Foundation, Ruth also works to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds and is currently chair of its People and Culture Committee and Employer Advisory Board. In her ‘day job’ as HR director at GWR, Ruth is seen as a transformationalist, inspirational leader.

Tamarra Taylor

With over a decade’s experience at Network Rail, Tamarra has been an energetic and charismatic leader, delivering national change projects in learning and development; with experience spanning from governance and assurance, sponsorship, and the company’s graduate and apprenticeship schemes.

Megan Pentecost

Megan joined Virgin Rail in 1999 as retail development manager, then spent five years at Trainline before establishing herself as a hugely respected transformational consultant, focusing on ticketing and customer service, as well as employee development schemes. She is now entrusted with developing and implementing the Pay as You Go programme on a nationwide level at GBRTT.

Simon Goff

Under his stewardship as managing director, First South, Simon cultivated the ‘Adventures by Bus’ brand proposition as well as rebranding and expanding to include a new link to Watford, the RailAir brand emanating from Heathrow. A people focused, product-based leader, Simon is renowned for constantly looking to create innovative and transformative new approaches to customer service.

Laura Daniel

Laura has spent 18 years in procurement, including at nPower and the Sovereign Housing Association. She joined First as Great Western Railway’s head of procurement in 2020 and is renowned for her strategic and customer-led approach, as well as strong leadership skills.

Mark Hopwood

Mark has been at the helm of Great Western Railway since 2008, with his service only broken by a year-long secondment heading up South Western Railway, making him the longest-standing TOC managing director. He is rightly credited with the transformation of both train companies, initially stabilising them and in the case of GWR moving them to be trailblazers around innovation, operational excellence and customer service in the industry. As one of the most experienced and knowledgeable rail industry professionals, Mark is seen as the ‘go-to’ person for advice in the sector. He is also president of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway.

Ben Potgieter

An increasingly respected leader in the bus sector, Ben has a progressive approach to HR and is renowned for his rounded skills and contribution that transcends his functional responsibilities. An impressive career that has included time at Lloyds Law, Boots, Encompass Development Group and Galliford Try PLC, Ben joined the bus industry at Nottingham City Transport in 2017. He rose to the ranks of HR director in 2021, where he is also responsible for safety and FM. A great collaborator and communicator, Ben is very much on the ascendancy.

Richard Stevens

Very much an unsung hero of the bus industry, Richard has gained plaudits for the way he reinvigorated and transformed services in rural Devon and Cornwall as managing director of Plymouth Citybus. His successful winning of Transport for Cornwall contracts and stewardship of these, building on the positive work of the previous incumbent, First, has earned admiration. Richard is also renowned for his extensive knowledge of the landscape and astute stakeholder relations.

Tom Bell

Starting his career at Apple, Tom joined South Western Railway on the FirstGroup Intern Scheme and quickly progressed to innovation manager, a role he has since been undertaking at Great Western Railway. Tom is renowned in the industry for his dynamic, high profile, energetic and innovative approach to driving change. He is also the deputy chair of Aspect, Great Western’s LGBT+ network, and volunteers for the Scouts outside of work.

Ripesh Patel

Ripesh has built his procurement career over 24 years and has experience of leading commercial teams within large-scale, complex organisations. He is currently the commercial and procurement strategy director for Network Rail. Ripesh is immensely passionate about everything people and ED&I. He chairs his directorate’s ED&I Change Group, is developing an Inclusive Procurement Programme, and is involved in several company-wide strategic initiatives including being on the Board of Network Rail’s Race Matters programme.

Matthew Moxon

Joining Northern in September 2023 as head of talent acquisition, Matthew brings fresh insight and energy to the challenges and opportunities of recruitment within the transport sector. His diverse background, spanning just under two decades, includes posts at Legal & General, Moores Furniture Group, Stroud Resourcing and among others Zenopa Recruitment, where he focused on the medical sector.




Chico Coulibaly BEM (pictured)

An inspirational and dynamic proven customer service leader, Chico has amassed an impressive record of operational and financial excellence for South Western Railway. A remarkable career spanning 21 years at South Western, he has since been recognised in the New Years Honours List for his work during Operation London Bridge in the days following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Ben Wakerley

With the opening of a brand-new depot in 2023 and the introduction of electric vehicles, Ben has presided over the transformation of Warrington’s Own Buses since joining as managing director in 2017. He has a formidable partnership with the company’s chair, Cathy Mitchell, and the creation of the Cheshire Cat brand kickstarted a customer service revolution. Ben has previously held senior leadership roles in Abellio, National Express and First Bus. Ben sits on the UK bus commission of CPT and is organising this year’s ALBUM Conference in Cheshire.

Colette Casey

After two decades in the automotive industry, including roles at Renault UK, Vauxhall Motors, General Motors, MG Rover and Hertz Lease, Colette joined CrossCountry Trains as customer and commercial director in 2021. She has been a breath of fresh air, presiding over customer service transformation programmes and injecting energy and vigour into the customer service and brand proposition. Supported by David Mullins, her charismatic number two at Renault UK who is now head of brand, communications and digital strategy, Colette heads a formidable team.

Sarah Boyd

Sarah deservedly scooped the top job at Lothian Buses in August 2022, having joined Lothian as its head of operations in 2013. Previously she rose through the ranks at Stagecoach, progressing to senior roles at its East and West Scotland subsidiaries. Passionate about people, Sarah has gained accolades for her commitment to rebuilding Lothian post pandemic through her strong leadership style and strategic stakeholder engagement.

Fiona White OBE

A career civil servant, Fiona currently oversees the contract management of half of the franchised operators, as director markets North. She has impressed with her pragmatic, progressive and customer-led approach to decision-making and building relationships with operators, whilst driving improvements during and since the pandemic.

Vitto Pizzuti

During a period of change at Transdev Blazefield, Vitto has played a solidifying role in improving performance, gaining increasing plaudits and forming an impactful partnership with impressive new CEO Henri Rohad. He is renowned for his energetic, customer driven approach to operations.

Abu Siddeeq

Glaswegian Abu impressed at Transport for London leading customer service and then bus operations teams, then at FirstGroup and GWR before becoming head of customer experience for LNER. An outspoken, innovative, passionate advocate of customer-centricity, Abu’s first executive level role came in 2023 in his home patch in Essex, as customer experience director for c2c.

Ben Gilligan

A former graduate trainee at First, before becoming its managing director, South Yorkshire and York, Ben moved to Go-Ahead in 2018, following a spell at South Yorkshire PTE. He currently heads up Go-Ahead’s East Yorkshire business and has become an outspoken advocate of bus priority measures across the region whilst also rejuvenating patronage and customer service.

Kemar Gilbert

Renowned for his customer-centric approach to resource planning and outstanding stakeholder management and project-based skills, Kemar has made a significant impact in his role as customer experience strategic resource manager at intercity train operator LNER by focusing on innovation, collaboration and continuous improvement. He joined the inter-city operator in April 2022 from East Midlands Railway where he spent just under 11 years in strategic resource planning roles. Recently, Kemar represented the UK rail industry alongside seven other talented individuals for the UK Japan Railway exchange programme. He aims to incorporate learnings from this amazing experience into his career.

Gregor Forbes

A newcomer to the industry having joined in July 2023, Gregor is heading up McGill’s Bright Bus sightseeing business in Edinburgh. A career professional in hospitality, travel and tourism, including a private members club, five star hotels and contract catering preceded him joining
Bright Bus and he has already impressed by imparting this experience into McGill’s proposition and replicating the dynamic, customer-focused approach of his impressive leader, Alex Hornby, who is group managing director at McGill’s.




Marc Reddy (pictured)

The winner of UK Bus Manager of the Year at the 2022 Route One awards, Marc swapped his role heading up Bus bids at FirstGroup to take on the role of managing director at Stagecoach South, building on 22 years of managing various First subsidiaries. A deep strategic thinker with the sharpest of customer lenses, Marc is also renowned as one of the finest leaders of his generation.

Anit Chandarana

Anit joined Network Rail from Shell in 2003 and after several roles over 17 years became chief of staff in 2020 before playing a key role in the creation of the GBR Transition Team in 2022 as lead director. At the forefront of developing the new strategy for the railway following the Williams Shapps Review, Anit was then seconded in August 2023 to the Department for Transport to help pave the way towards the dawn of GBR. A deep strategic thinker and builder of strong stakeholder relations, Anit is becoming an increasingly influential figure across the sector. Anit is one of the few leaders of colour in the industry and uses his role to champion the need for the industry to improve its diversity, inclusion and equality agenda.

Matt Goggins

Matt spent a decade at National Express overseeing its north-based coach stations and then as head of public affairs. He joined the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as head of bus in 2015 and is now assistant director, bus, where he is playing a lead role in the preparation for reform and the transition to bus franchising across the Liverpool City Region.

Rob Mullen

With over 20 years of experience in UK Rail, Rob is an exceptional leader. Working for multiple TOCs including c2c, First Great Western, GWR, and GTR, Rob is now the managing director at c2c. From international work on patronage in Athens to delivering excellent traincrew management, Rob has always put people first. Rob is also the chair of the Board of Trustees at Bath City Football Club Foundation.

Ralph Roberts

Ralph is one of the most experienced and talented bus operators in the industry, spending many years at Arriva before joining McGill’s which he has transformed into the largest independent bus company in the UK. Having handed on a lot of day-to-day responsibilities to Alex Hornby, Ralph has become increasingly outspoken, even more strategic and influential in driving bus policy across Scotland, buoyed also by his role as CPT UK president and chair of Traveline Scotland.

Alison Edwards

Following five years as both head of policy and then director of policy, Alison is now the recently appointed director of policy and external relations at the Confederation of Passenger Transport. Alison has her work cut out at a pivotal time for the the sector. She has handled challenges with considerable aplomb in an impressive career that has included roles at the Department for Communities & Local Government and previously at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Alex Hynes

A mainstay of UK Rail for 26 years, Alex continues to impress and influence as managing director, Scotland’s Railway. Previously managing director of Northern Railway, Alex’s career has expertly combined strategy, commercial and operations as he headed up Go-Ahead’s business development division and held senior roles at Halcrow and ORR. Alex has made his mark positively wherever he has gone in his career and is hugely popular at Network Rail and within the sector, renowned for his customer-centricity, engaging style and intelligent stakeholder relation skills.

Guillaume Chanussot

After a period of uncertainty around their UK aspirations, Transdev showed they meant business by restoring the role of UK CEO and installing experienced, multi-modal Guillaume to kickstart exciting expansion plans. Guillaume is people focused, delivering via inspirational leadership, with a strong track record of creating customer satisfaction, business success and efficient stakeholder communication. Guillaume was previously MD for Manchester Metrolink and before then held senior roles at Keolis.

Maria Bainbridge

An Arriva Bus operations graduate and then operations manager, Maria spent a year in recruitment before joining Go-Ahead as business improvement manager in 2022. She then climbed to the role of head of people and change and is a rising star with a reputation for being a great communicator
and visionary thinker.


Commercial innovators


Nikki Honer (pictured)

A mainstay of the multi-award-winning Go South Coast team, Nikki is one of the most experienced marketers in the bus sector. As head of marketing, she has developed a multi-channel approach to raise brand awareness, and increase customer growth, particularly in the leisure market. With a strong focus on digital content to complement traditional publicity. Nikki has also built close stakeholder relations within the community. She is seen as being a key player in the legacy of success that Go South Coast has created.

Faizan Muhammad

A stellar career that commenced in Karachi, Pakistan, led to Faizan working on a pan-sector basis in senior finance roles, at Deloitte, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Snowflake Luxury Gelato Ltd and then to his current post as group head of commercial finance at FirstGroup. Faizan has been leading business development of decarbonisation opportunities, including driving commercial negotiations on the recently completed landmark transaction with Hitachi Europe.

Emma Osborn

Emma has 26 years railway experience, mainly at Network Rail in several senior positions. With a strong commercial background, Emma has been pivotal in leading internal transformation situations, creating lasting cross-industry partnerships for the benefit of customers, taxpayers and Network Rail employees. Emma is a champion for diversity and inclusion, focusing on mentoring and supporting women, and colleagues from
black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds across the industry.

James O’Neill

James is often described as one of the brightest commercial experts in the bus industry, and his progressive, strategic and detail-conscious approach has earned great praise. He started his career at erstwhile independent bus operator Emsworth & District Motor Services in 2000 and carried out roles as a cleaner, bus driver and admin clerk before joining Stagecoach South in 2007. He left for Stagecoach’s West subsidiary in 2016 returning to the South as commercial director in 2022.

Jane Purdie

An experienced marketer and communicator, Jane has played a key role in the development of the TrawsCymru service at Transport for Wales, as well as improving perceptions of bus travel. With her energetic, customer-driven approach, Jane builds on her communications and marketing experience across a wide variety of sectors in both private and public sector organisations.

Antony Goozee

Through a period in which there has been a big change in personnel at the top of National Express, Antony has been a linchpin, promoted to UK Bus strategy director in 2023 from UK new business development director. Antony previously spent 15 years in a number of director roles at Rotala.

Glenn De Sousa

A passionate transport management professional, Glenn has a strong record of value-adding work in varied business environments including consultancy, independent, municipal and PLC organisations. With nine years in transport, Glenn is now head of commercial at Oxford Bus Company, part of the Go-Ahead Group. Glenn is commercially minded with a proven track record of delivering strong results.

Simon Pearson

With many comings and goings at First Bus during the past decade, Simon has been a mainstay, and his loyalty and expertise were rewarded in 2022 as he joined the UK Bus Board as chief commercial officer. Simon has a fresh perspective on increasing customer satisfaction and patronage, which combines well with his thirst for market insight and his strategic lens.


Social value exponents


Claire Haigh (pictured)

Claire is one of the most renowned social value experts of her generation, having founded Greener Transport Solutions and Greener Vision. She was chief executive of Greener Journeys for 11 years and a leading advocate and commentator around public transport and its positive impacts on society. She has just taken over at the helm of Zemo Partnership, the organisation that has been working with government and stakeholders to deliver policies and initiatives to accelerate decarbonisation of UK road transport.

Martin Dean

As chair of the Confederation for Passenger Transport, Martin has been an unsung hero in stabilising the bus sector during and post the pandemic and demonstrating to the government and industry its social value to communities. In his day job, he heads up Go-Ahead’s regional businesses and his fanatical approach to customer service as well as his affable and effective leadership style has made him one of the most popular and highly regarded transport professionals in the UK. He is also chair of Edinburgh Trams and has experience in rail at Transport for London and National Express.

Rob Jones

A career bus professional, Rob transformed Stagecoach’s Lake District services before being entrusted with the company’s bids for franchising, mobilisation and day-to-day running of its biggest business outside of London. Rob has won admiration for his undersold, people-centric approach and industry experience and he combines his role with being chair of the Transport Benevolent Fund.

Sam Russell

An excellent collaborator and leader of stakeholder relations, Sam is head of customer experience relationships and projects at Arriva Rail London, where he leads the CEx directorate’s engagement with trade union colleagues. He is very well respected internally as well as by key client Transport for London and has always been at the forefront of looking at ways to improve customer satisfaction. He combines his role with that of chair of Age UK Buckinghamshire and as a Family Court Magistrate.

Yvonne Fox-Burmby

After successfully building the social enterprise ecosystem at GMCVO (Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation) as a programme manager, Yvonne joined transport user watchdog Transport Focus in 2017 as stakeholder team coordinator. Progressing through the organisation to stakeholder manager she is passionate about her role as representing the voice of the passenger. She works day to day with train operators Northern and TransPennine to understand the challenges faced whilst ensuring the impact on passengers remains a priority and also works with the TRU (Transpennine Route Upgrade) teams helping to influence decisions that affect passengers and ensure future investment is user focussed.

Helen Townend

Named in the FT Top 100 Influential Women in Engineering, Helen is passionate about empowering others at all stages of their career. Helen is currently chair of Women at Amey Affinity Group, elected to lead the employee group to support the 4,000 plus women in the business, responsible for the steering and monitoring of progress with objectives of allyship, education, career development, recruitment and retention of talent.

Hana Sutch

Hana is the founder and owner of leading curated walking App provider Go Jauntly. She has been a passionate advocate of working with public transport providers to promote walking as a compatible mode and leisure pursuit to drive better social mobility, active lifestyles, well-being and reducing the carbon footprint.

LEARN ABOUT LOST: lost.careers

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!