Šárka Moučková
Vice-President, Human Resources, Škoda Group, Czech Republic
Years in the industry: 10

LIKE all rail industry companies, Škoda Group is in a fight to secure a new generation of talented young professionals that will drive the company forward. Šárka Moučková is playing a leading role in devising recruitment initiatives for the company, which are proving highly successful. Indeed, her innovative strategies have not only attracted a wave of fresh talent, but also positioned Škoda as a hub of opportunity for aspiring professionals in the Czech Republic and beyond.

For example, Škoda is focused heavily on building relationships and collaborating with schools and universities. Šárka helped to develop a trainee programme, which has exposed these students to real-world experiences of working at Škoda, and is proving successful in providing a pathway into the company, with 90% of trainees going on to become full-time employees.

Šárka Moučková
Vice-President, Human Resources, Škoda Group, Czech Republic.

As well as attracting new talent, Šárka focuses much of her work on nurturing the company’s existing personnel, acting as the driving force for several key employee development initiatives. This includes an employee evaluation system, which identifies potential in employees and offers opportunities for them to grow and advance within the company. Among the most important initiatives has been a programme to provide employees on maternity leave with the option to remain connected with the company by undertaking part-time roles, enabling them to balance childcare with work and keeping their skills sharp.

Šárka’s nominator credits her amazing ability to turn challenges into opportunities as one of her overarching strengths. For example, one of her most difficult projects was working alongside a polytechnic in Indonesia to provide opportunities for students to join Škoda. Complex logistics, cultural differences and bureaucratic hurdles were all overcome, with the result that Škoda was able to attract a number of talented Indonesians to join the company under a two-year paid internship. Šárka’s determination and can-do attitude was critical to the success of the project.

“Šárka is a true leader and innovator in the rail industry,” her nominator writes. “Her visionary approach to HR management has not only strengthened Škoda Group’s workforce but has also elevated the industry’s standards.”

Susan Peterson Sturm
Senior Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Wabtec, United States
Years in the industry: 25

FOR the past 15 years, Susan Peterson Sturm has been an active contributor to critical infrastructure cybersecurity groups. Her work has ranged from contributing to standards development, such as the international industrial cybersecurity standard ISA 62443.2.3 on patch management for industrial automation and control systems (IACS), to supporting sector working groups on software bills of materials. Her efforts have been focused on areas that will enable industrial cybersecurity solutions to be adopted at scale.

Susan led the rollout of the first product cybersecurity programme to receive IEC 62443 certification at GE. She says that implementing this across a $US 6bn business required significant effort to influence and educate distinct stakeholder groups, requiring her to deploy strongly-honed influencing and change management skills to efficiently scale innovation-based technology. Susan engages stakeholders and secures their involvement with empathy and prioritisation to drive meaningful change.

Susan Peterson Sturm Senior Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Wabtec, United States.

In this way, she has significantly altered perceptions in how cybersecurity is addressed and delivered at scale in critical infrastructure, also advising rail sector-focused cybersecurity start-ups and participating in industry groups in her effort to drive greater maturity in mission-critical industrial cybersecurity. Susan is a member of InfraGard, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the private sector which aims to protect critical infrastructure. It brings together representatives of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and others to share intelligence and prevent hostile acts against the US.

Her work to support female colleagues includes mentoring women at the start of their careers under the Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) programme, as well as ongoing mentoring of other colleagues who are currently under-represented in the cybersecurity industry. Outside work, Susan is chairperson of One Warm Coat, a non-profit organisation that provides free coats to children and adults in need.

Veronica Elena Bocci
Cluster Coordinator for Ditecfer, Italy, and Vice-President of the European Railway Clusters Initiative (ERCI)
Years in the industry: 13

VERONICA Elena Bocci, the current Cluster Coordinator for the District for Railway Technologies, High-Speed Networks, Safety and Security (Ditecfer), an association of Italian companies and research institutions, and vice-president of the European Railway Clusters Initiative (ERCI), has been a prominent figure in the railway industry for over 13 years. Her contributions span the development of key organisational structures, the orchestration of technology-focused events, and the leadership of numerous significant European railway research and development projects.

Veronica played a crucial role in the creation and development of ERCI, which was formally established as a legal entity in 2022. As a member of the board of directors and vice-president, she was instrumental in shaping ERCI, which now includes 17 clusters from 16 European countries. This network represents a vast number of companies within the railway sector. Her efforts in organising Acceleration events have been particularly notable.

Veronica Elena Bocci Cluster Coordinator for Ditecfer, Italy, and Vice-President of the European Railway Clusters Initiative (ERCI).

Her influence extends to several significant European projects where she has served as author, coordinator, and partner. One such project is STARS (STrategic Alliances boosting Railway SMEs), which aims to develop innovative approaches to ease the adoption of advanced technologies by SMEs in the railway value chain. Another key initiative is Leader 2030, which seeks to enhance the European rail supply industry’s capacity to meet the EU’s vision for a transformed railway system by 2030. Additionally, Veronica has been involved in the S-Access project, which is designed to help SMEs in the rail supply industry participate in international public procurement. Other notable projects include Exxtra, aimed at creating synergies and training activities among railway clusters, and Peres, which promotes the internationalisation of European Rail SMEs in non-EU markets.

Veronica’s presence is also strongly felt at international conferences, fairs, and exhibitions. She has delivered speeches at prominent events such as Expo Ferroviaria, InnoTrans, and Eurasia Rail. As a member of the European Commission Expert Group on the Competitiveness of the Rail Supply Industry, she contributes to improving market access for SMEs. She also participates in setting certification and standards in the railway sector within India, collaborating as a railway expert with CEN/CENELEC.

Veronica’s commitment to community service is evident through her support for colleagues and educational initiatives. Veronica has promoted Unicef through various activities and organised special technical courses for young people in Pistoia, providing them with practical experience and job opportunities in the railway industry.

Her leadership is characterised by strategic decision-making, resilience in challenging situations, and a collaborative approach. Veronica has managed financial crises by prioritising the salaries of her colleagues and has taken risks by organising events without prior approval from cluster members. She develops comprehensive business plans for Ditecfer, inspiring her colleagues with clear vision and strategic suggestions. Her management of European projects showcases her ability to lead diverse teams and deliver successful outcomes.

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 3 of Women in Rail Award 2024 can be found here

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