New Year’s Honours list recognises three Network Rail employees: Network Rail logo

Friday 31 Dec 2021

New Year’s Honours list recognises three Network Rail employees

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Three Network Rail employees have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, published on 31 December.

Akthar Hussain, Milla Mazilu and Vince James have been awarded British Empire Medals (BEM) for various pieces of work – including vital volunteer and community work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting diversity in the rail industry, and helping ex-prisoners get the skills and qualifications they need for a career on the railway.

Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: “I would like to congratulate Akthar, Milla and Vince for their inclusion in the New Year’s Honours list. It makes me proud to hear about the incredible, selfless work employees are doing to improve the lives of others in their communities and further afield. As a company we benefit from their outstanding commitment, and it is great to see their dedication acknowledged at the highest level.”

  • Akthar Hussain, systems engineer in Network Rail’s Southern region, was awarded a BEM for his work to boost diversity and inclusion in the rail industry. As co-chair of Network Rail’s Multi-Faith employee network, and champion of the industry-wide Muslims in Rail (MIR) group, recognition of the value a diverse workforce brings to a company is important to Akthar. He made it his personal ambition to educate industry leaders to remove barriers to inclusion and address unconscious bias faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates. Akthar is passionate about inspiring young people to take up careers involving STEM, and works closely with schools in East London to set up STEM workshops and careers fairs. He has also been a driving force in urging his fellow colleagues and MIR members to promote sustainability and tackle environmental issues.
  • Milla Mazilu, principal programme controls manager in Network Rail’s Wales & Western region, was awarded a BEM for her voluntary work and charitable efforts. She has been volunteering with the Royal Academy of Engineering on a project called COVID-19 African Rapid Entrepreneurs (CARE), which aims to support African engineering entrepreneurs make and supply PPE that can be used in hospitals and clinics in sub-Saharan Africa. She developed a system for project CARE which also helped to improve project management at Network Rail, helping her colleagues work more efficiently. Milla has also volunteered with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, and the Association for Project Management, where she is currently deputy chair.

  • Vince James, from Network Rail’s central HR function, was awarded a BEM for voluntary and charitable services. Specifically, he has been volunteering in prisons for the last nine years, speaking directly to a total of around 6,000 prisoners and encouraging them to consider a career in the railway upon their release. Vince believes firmly that people deserve a second chance, that everyone can contribute to society, and that re-offending is reduced when people have a viable job to go to. He has been working with prisons on bespoke training programmes for prisoners – a project he hopes to resume properly when COVID-19 restrictions allow – and thanks to his determination and persuasiveness, in October 2021 Network Rail amended its recruitment policy so that ex-prisoners are eligible for employment following a successful independent risk assessment.

Earlier this year, four Network Rail employees – Rajinder Pryor, MBE, John Sidebotham, BEM, Danny Hawkins, BEM and Simon Lloyd, BEM – were listed in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021. In the previous year, a total of 10 employees were honoured in the Queen’s Birthday and New Year’s Honours lists.

Notes to editors

The New Year’s Honours list was published at 10.30pm on Friday 31 December 2021.

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