From onboard catering to social media at Virgin Trains East Coast

Steven Hughes works in the social media team at Virgin Trains East Coast. But he hasn’t always spent his day at a computer. Before taking to the keyboard, he worked onboard as a member of the catering team. We spoke to him to find out more…

“I absolutely loved my role onboard. As soon as you started people said it was one big family, as soon as you got into the railway you never left, that was it. And that's exactly how it's felt,” he says. “Straight away people made you feel welcome, they made you feel as if you'd been there a long time.”

Previously, Steven had worked as cabin crew for an airline but opted to move go from planes to trains to have “something more permanent than seasonal work”. But, he says of his role onboard, “it was a job that was nigh on the same as on the airlines so I stepped into the role well and enjoyed it massively.”

But when the opportunity came to work with the social media team, Steven jumped at it. “The social media thing is massive now within all companies and it was something that I wanted to get involved in to see different parts of the business and to get involved with events that we're running and also to get involved with other parts of the Virgin brands.”

And although his role now is “the complete opposite” to his onboard catering role, he says that he loves it just as much – if not more.

“Onboard I was face-to-face with customers but now it's completely different and I'm having to know everything about everything really,” he explains. “It can be dealing with everything from an onboard situation through to anything that comes in, it really gives you the chance to get out and know the different parts of the business. And also to meet people across the business at different events we do, getting involved with those.”

However, Steven knows that it’s his background in face-to-face customer service that landed him the job with the social media team. “Having an onboard role first definitely helps in my social media role,” he says. “That's one thing that I played on when I applied for the job, what we were saying on social might not have always been correct so this was something that I could help with. I had the knowledge from being onboard so that really helped because other people wouldn't have that.”

And now it means that he has a special role in the social media team. “They all come to me with queries about onboard,” he explains. “I have that knowledge and I know a lot of the guards and the crews so I can speak to them and get it done quicker - or even if it couldn't have been done I can put in a request and pull in a few favours.”

Steven says that the team at Virgin Trains East Coast were very supportive of his move from the onboard team into his current role in social media. “It was definitely a case of ‘if you want to do something, go out and do it and don’t let anyone stop you’. The team definitely encourage people to look into different roles and consider where my career might go and try things out, whether that’s a permanent change or a case of shadowing someone else for a bit,” he explains.

“My role was only a secondment to social media at first but then I ended up getting the job permanently by keeping on their backs about it. I made it clear that it was something that I wanted, that it was on my mind and not just something off the cuff but something that I had given a lot of thought to.”

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