Frontline of the Future is the frontline podcast inspired by key workers. Their lives, the contributions they make to society, and what's in store for the 80% who don't sit behind a desk. Throughout the series, Peter Durkin speaks to a number of frontline leaders, understands their journeys and hears their predictions Series 1 focuses on the transport industry, one of the sectors hardest-hit by Covid-19. Expect a rich mix of topics: sustainability and the shift away from cars, technology and automation, frontline talent supply, the role of the union – all in 15 minutes of easy listening.
9: Phil Greenwood | "How to Turn Your Frontline into a Growth Engine"
15:18For the ~season finale~... 🥁 We host Phil Greenwood: CEO of WCS Group! Law graduate, Sales Guru and all-round lovely guy. Phil has a true growth mindset. Himself and Peter Durkin talk acquisitions, scaling culture – and empowering frontline employees to be sales leaders 📈 Phil, it was a total pleasure to have you! And huge kudos to the team at WCS Group for keeping 'business as usual' throughout the pandemic 👏👏👏 Don't underestimate the power of an agile frontline. We've seen it in action. It creates loyalty. Better relationships. Increased retention. Better customer service – much better. After all, they are the closest connection you have with your customers. Your frontline is your greatest underused asset. And the companies who equip theirs best now, will be those who win later.
8: Paul Sainthouse | "This Is How Transport Will Bounce Back"
15:59 "You'll always do better as part of a whole." Paul Sainthouse FCILT believes in the power of collectives. It makes sense. He's the president of CILT (UK), MD at Dawsongroup bus and coach and APPG secretary at Community Transport Association. His enthusiasm for all 3 is infectious. He's able to put an optimistic spin on every question Peter Durkin throws his way, like: 💪 He's confident Dawsongroup plc will "emerge a better business: fitter, leaner, more capable." ❤️ The pandemic gave staff an opportunity to shine: innovation, bravery, "excelling far beyond what I could have expected." 🌟And CILT (UK) membership? It's "never been a better time to build your future in the transport industry."
7: David Brown | "Why Public Transport is a Political Issue"
15:46 “A Titan of the Transport Industry” Is how @peter durkin describes this week’s guest, David Brown. He’s not wrong. Group CEO of Go Ahead Group, David is one of the most influential men in transport today. As ex-MD of Surface Transport at TFL, he's used to toeing the line between transport and politics. Today, he's dealing with an unfamiliar political nememis: Covid-19. He tells Peter Durkin how the team at Go Ahead stepped up 'without a single exception' to rebuild business. Why we need a ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to combat messaging demonizing public transport. ... And how the future of transport relies on talented grads, fast-tracked into Senior Leadership.
6: Alex Warner | "What People Forget About Customer Service"
29:24 After a week off, Frontline of the Future is BACK with a double-whammy of an episode! This week, Peter speaks to the illustrious Alex Warner. Alex loves MacDonalds, non-league football and having dinner with Martin Dean. He's also one of the most successful businessmen in transport today, having enjoyed a phenomenal career that's seen him take the helm at some of the biggest names in the industry. From National Rail to British Airways to First Group, now the CEO of Flash Forward Consulting, Alex knows a thing or two about customer service. Himself and Peter discuss what's going right – and wrong – when it comes to customer service in the transport industry today. He believes that, to develop 'omni-present customer-centricity', the first area to tackle is inclusion and diversity. "How can we resonate and engage with customers if we can't relate to them?" This is the number one area that could "turn the dial" if addressed once and for all.
5: Jaspal Singh | "The Importance of Belonging"
15:39 Jaspal Singh famously said: “Anyone can drive a bus, but not everyone can be a bus driver.” The ex UK CEO of ComfortDelGro is highly attune to the mindset that gets the country moving; after all ComfortDelGro’s London subsidiary, Metroline, carries 1million people a day. Jaspal is back in his homeland of Singapore, where he previously spent 27 years as a government advisor. Jaspal is full of quirky wisdom and shares his philosophy on the world of work. On the subject of companies currently being forced into digital maturity due to the crisis, he says “2021 will actually be more like 2030.” His vision for the Frontline of the Future is one where we get back to basics: honour, respect, and belonging. This sense of belonging, or, Maslows Third Hiararchy of Needs, is a key theme throughout the episode: “it’s why we join clubs, why we have families.” So how will we let employees know they belong when they no longer come into an office? In Jaspal’s opinion, it’s all about communication: speaking to each employee as if you were doing so one-on-one, reassuring them, letting them know their value. He assures Peter Durkin that ‘a culture of caring’ is the only way forward. For this and much more, check out Frontline of the Future, the best Frontline Worker Podcast.
4: Rob Slaski | "The Truth About Loyalty"
16:09This week, Peter hunkers down with Rob Slaski. Having spent an impressive 30 years at Asda, Rob is now COO of mighty retail solutions operator, Dee Set. Rob’s long and varied career in retail has seen him graduate from stacking shelves on the Asda shop floor to directing the retail giant’s store design. When Peter laudes him for his enduring loyalty, Rob replies that loyalty is ‘created’: a symbiosis that comes from being fed constant responsibility and opportunity. For him, Covid-19 has been ‘challenging, proud, surreal’. Despite the difficulty - after all, the retail sector has had to deal with food (and toilet paper) shortages – it has shown him what his staff are truly capable of. He’s learnt to ‘unleash the talent you have - faster.’ Part of this has involved cancelling 90% of meetings: “we’ve found a faster way to work, and we love it.” The situation has arguably forced all UK retailers into digital maturity: how does Rob see this panning out? In his opinion, frontline jobs and merchendising will always be relevant: "we will always need someone on the shop floor.” He sees the frontline of the future being one that relies on agility and fluidity more than anything; jobs being safe, but repurposed and less rigid. That way, we can leverage a more holistic approach to working that takes into account people’s skillsets beyond their job spec, and allows them to go further and take risks, just as he has done in his career. “The skills are already out there; it’s tapping into them and networking them into something really special.”
3: Paul Dyer | "Defining Frontline Culture"
16:48For Episode 3, Peter Durkin is joined by Ex-DHL CEO, Paul Dyer. Having spent an impressive 30 years at DHL, Paul is back home in Wales, the newly-appointed MD of Cardiff Buses. As Peter remarks: “there aren’t many MDs who’ve had to deal with a global pandemic in their first 90 days.” A key theme this week is the supply of future frontline talent. Paul explains why the transport industry needs a rebrand to appeal to the next generation. How can we encourage young people to see the sector for what it is: vast, dynamic and full of opportunities? Reframe transport as a career path, rather than a stopgap? Show students that a job in transport goes far beyond the stereotype of being a driver? One aspect of this is public perception. In today’s media landscape, it can feel like we only hear the dangers of frontline work. They discuss why it’s crucial to highlight the benefits of frontline work, and the the potential of social media for achieving this. Another is company culture, which, as Paul says: “is harder to change than revenue.” But it all starts with strong leadership; and just as DHL evolved into something forward-thinking and aspirational, so can public transport. When it comes to technology disrupting the status quo, the opportunity for disruption lies in engineering and electrification. Replacing diesel engines with batteries, not replacing drivers with robots. That’s why the transport industry will remain culturally-defined, rather than software-defined. For all this and much more, check out Frontline of the Future, the no.1 frontline industry podcast.
2: Martin Harris | "Silver Linings"
16:37In episode 2, Peter Durkin meets Martin Harris: MD of not just one, but two of the country's leading bus businesses. They discuss taking an ‘outsider's approach, and why cross-pollination between sectors is essential for maintaining fresh thinking and innovation. A vocal advocate for sustainability, Martin explains why his philosophy is a personal one. He predicts that, post-Covid-19, we will either create systemic environmental change, or revert back 30 years. The pandemic has forced smarter collaboration and stronger culture. Going forward, how can we continue to co-create solutions with local government and unions? When it comes to customer service, will technology bolster human efforts, replace them – or destroy them? And has the public perception of Frontline Workers changed forever? "It will say a lot about us as a society if we don't slip into forgetting how important frontline workers have been", he says. For all this and much more, check out our digestible frontline worker podcast.
1: David Begg | "We Should Be Clapping for Bus Drivers"
17:37“His intro could take longer than the show itself." In this inaugural episode, Peter Durkin speaks to David Begg: one of the most influential names in UK transport. Author, academic, entrepreneur, CEO of Transport Times, and all-round frontline legend. They discuss reduced patronage on public transport, and why the industry needs a marketing exercise to recover from Covid-19. Plus, the need for a new, excellent customer service phase on buses. We've had a 'live demonstration' of life with clean air: can we continue the positive environmental momentum towards a greener future? Is the case for cars stronger now, or weaker? Will we learn from our mistakes when it comes to autonomous vehicles? Are there lessons to be learned from previous terror attacks on society? For all this and much more, check out our bite-sized transport industry podcast.