“I have the unique challenge of teaching people about the new ways of doing their job but of also letting go so that they can grow at their own pace.”
Railways in Cambodia have only recently become part of the country’s infrastructure agenda. Now the government are investing more money to update dilapidated services as well as creating new international links. IT was only in May 2016 when freight and passenger services between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville were opened and the country was able to celebrate a regular rail service. This week Sarah Wright spoke to John Guiry, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Railways Cambodia. John has been with company for three years and explains to SmartRail World what he enjoys about the industry and where he sees Cambodian railway progressing in the future.
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the rail industry?
John Guiry (JW): I joined the industry in 1976, initially only for six months – I had just passed my aptitude test to enter the Airforce as a Technician Air but the start date coincided with a holiday my Mother and Father had booked (a cruise for 16 days!) so I opted for a late entry in the Air Force after the cruise. But three months into my role at the first rail company that I worked for I got promoted and have enjoyed being in the industry ever since. I have been fortunate enough to work with colleagues that support me as well presenting new opportunities. Since entering the industry I have worked in many diverse roles so I never get tired of doing the same job and learning new skills.
SW: What do like most about your job?
JG: For me, I love the challenges that I encounter on a daily basis. It makes every day different and I am always having to think of new ways to solve problems. Another aspect that I enjoy is the amount of varied roles that I have been able to work in. For example, I can be a CEO at the same time as an Accountant, Engineer, Designer, Inventor and Mechanic. This allows me to understand the key aspects of the industry to help me make informed decisions. Additionally, I am proud to serve my country by delivering an alternative freight service. Being able to have an larger influence inside the industry and outside it with the government is very rewarding for me. I am very lucky to work with a supportive boss which is important for the work I do.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
JG: Well, I have experienced many challenges along the way from technical difficulties to managing staff. I would say the biggest challenge that I have faced though was when the business had first started out. I found it difficult to teach people new ways to do their job which they had probably been doing for many years. However, it taught me that you need to allow people to grow at their own pace.
Want to hear more about the challenges faced by Guiry when renovation the railways in Cambodia? Then join him at SmartRail Asia – the free to attend exhibition and conference – in Bangkok this December. Click here to find out more!
SW: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail now and in 10 years’ time?
JG: Recently, the rail industry has seen some big changes around the world with high speed railways but now I believe that these faster train connections will be delivered to Cambodia to transport both freight and passengers. Additionally, I think there will be new improvements made to the North and South Line operations. I can see developments taking place in airport shuttles, railways or tramways around Phnom Penh.
SW: What’s your favourite rail journey?
JG: This is a hard question because there are so many options that I could choose from! I am very lucky because wherever I work, I am able to see how beautiful the Cambodian countryside is. Therefore, on every train I take I can see something new each time and these scenes change month by month.
SW: John, thank you so much for your time and we look forward to seeing you at SmartRail later this year!
5 minutes with… You? Each Friday the team here at SmartRail World will bring you a great new 5 minutes with... interview. This fun, fast-paced feature will help you get to know more about personalities across the industry, their ideas and experiences and of course their own favourite rail journey! Want to take part? Email: email@example.com to find out more.
The last 5 minutes with... Robert T. McCarthy, Chief Safety Officer at Keolis Commuter Services
Next week's 5 minutes with... Carlos Esquiros, Engineering and Maintenance Director, Metro de Madrid