Rebecca Thissell
Director of Financial Reporting and Technical Accounting,
The Greenbrier Companies, United States
Years in the industry: 3

REBECCA Thissell has quickly become a key cog in the team at Greenbrier during her three years with the company, taking on numerous leadership roles. Among the achievements in her position as director of financial reporting and technical accounting, Rebecca created a global technical accounting matters tracker, which has consolidated the company’s most significant matters into a central repository. The tracker can be easily monitored and reviewed, which is especially important for a company with activities spanning the United States, Mexico, Europe and South America.

Rebecca Thissell Director of Financial Reporting and Technical Accounting, The Greenbrier Companies, United States.

Rebecca is credited by her nominator for showing initiative and dedication to improve processes and methodologies within accounting, which has helped to improve Greenbrier’s overall efficiency and productivity. She has taken the lead on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) work for the accounting team and played a key role in forecasting the expected accountancy consequences for Greenbrier of creating a European leasing business. She presented this information to the company’s executive management, helping to inform the decision-making process. In addition, she undertook a leadership role with the transition team as Greenbrier embarked on a process to sell its marine operations, working to help ensure the transaction proceeded smoothly.

Rebecca is also part of the company’s GBXCELs Women’s Leadership Employee Resource Group where she helps to promote professional development and contributes to fostering a sense of well-being among employees. “Her participation encourages others to join and become involved, and reinforces a positive work environment for growth,” her nominator writes. Her work will also help to position Greenbrier for the future. In particular, a project to issue approximately 70 global accounting policies and align the same accounting methodology across the company will improve reporting efficiency, presenting a clear picture of performance, helping to support future development decisions.

Abi Johnson
Senior HR Business Partner,
Network Rail, Britain
Years in the industry: 1

THE Anglia route at British infrastructure manager Network Rail is rolling out a new programme of employee forums and Abi Johnson is playing a key role in their development and implementation, despite her comparatively limited rail industry experience.

The Angli-her forum was set up in early 2023 to enable women at Network Rail Anglia to share their good and bad experiences of working in rail, aiming to make the company a place where women can thrive.

Abi has been nominated by her line manager who says she has secured the support of the Network Rail Anglia executive team. As well as personal safety in the workplace and personal development, the group has tackled the difficult and often taboo subject of losing a baby which included guest speakers from Child Bereavement UK. This was a challenging and emotional session, but the feedback received from the group was overwhelmingly positive.

Abi Johnson
Senior HR Business Partner, Network Rail, Britain.

In December 2023, Abi organised the first face-to-face event where over 70 women attended, including industry colleagues from outside Network Rail Anglia. Guest speaker Marcia Williams, head of diversity and inclusion at Transport for London (TfL), provided inspiration by sharing her career journey with the group. Angli-her has grown from 30 members to now over 70 regularly attending, with interaction taking place outside this forum on an intranet chat group set up by Abi.

Her vision for 2024 is to gain the support of male colleagues in championing key issues such as challenging unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. Following the success of Angli-her, Abi has further championed equality, diversity and inclusion by creating Your Space, Network Rail Anglia’s forum for black and minority ethnic employees.

Abi continues to challenge the ways of working in the business, making others stop and think about their impact and what they can do to include others. Her determination is clear and she has delivered these initiatives through her commitment and building strong relationships with leaders, colleagues and external partners.

Miho Ihara
Partner and Vice-President,
Anglophone and Lusophone
Africa, CPCS, Canada
Years in the industry: 18

MIHO Ihara has been nominated by her employer, Canadian consultancy CPCS, which says that her rise from the position of consultant to partner and vice-president, sitting on the CPCS board, is testament to her determination and leadership. Ihara has increased the company’s presence in Africa and now leads a diverse, multidisciplinary team advising major clients that include the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB).

Miho had been working on rail projects in Africa and the Middle East since 2007. Her big break came in 2014 as project manager and economist on a major regional project for the East African Community (ECA). She later led work to update Railway Reform: A Toolkit for Improving Railway Sector Performance for the World Bank, and at present is taking on the role of project director for an institutional review of the rail sector in Namibia and for improving the financial sustainability of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara).

Miho Ihara
Partner and Vice-President, Anglophone and Lusophone
Africa, CPCS, Canada.

The challenges that Miho has faced during her career at CPCS include one major project that her employer says was fraught with cultural tension. Her mediation skills diffused conflict, bringing the focus back on delivery. At the most difficult times, she rolled up her sleeves and got back to work where others failed, giving new impetus to a stalling project. Although several factors were beyond her control, Miho brought the project to a successful conclusion, producing a clear and actionable infrastructure plan and a happy client.

Miho has become an influential leader and mentor at CPCS. Born in Japan and now based in Canada, she deeply understands the challenges facing underrepresented groups in the workplace and has become a voice for diversity and gender equality, creating a safe space for women who can face challenges when negotiating in a male-dominated environment.

Her actions have inspired a company-wide effort to promote inclusion, and have prompted colleagues to create an informal employee resource group for women at CPCS. In the field, Ihara is a firm advocate of including female expertise and businesses owned by women when building a project team for the client.

Part 1 of Women in Rail Award 2024 can be found here

Part 2 of Women in Rail Award 2024 can be found here

Part 4 of Women in Rail Award 2024 can be found here

Part 5 of Women in Rail Award 2024 can be found here