Full steam ahead: Mitchell McGaw’s commitment to safety, growth, and greatness at Rail First
From a young age, Mitchell McGaw alwaysknew a career in rail was the track he wanted to travel down. Determined to continue his family’s legacy in the small town he loves, a job at Australia’s leading provider of rollingstock solutions was the obvious choice. Mitch’s drive has only accelerated at Rail First, and our Workshop Manager isn’t planning to hit the brakes any time soon.
Leading the charge
Mitch McGaw isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. One of the things he loves most about his role as Workshop Manager in our Goulburn Maintenance Facility is how different every day can be, and how much growth he’s gained by stepping outside his comfort zone.
“It’s not like a 9-5 where we’re sitting at a desk, doing the same thing every day,” Mitch says. “There’s always something different, whether it’s meeting deadlines, ensuring the customer receives a reliable product, or solving mechanical problems. Whatever we do, I know I’ve got a team behind me that’s always willing to jump in and help.”
Since joining Rail First Asset Management as a Wagon Maintainer in 2011, Mitch has worked his way up through a variety of roles, and is immensely proud of what he’s achieved. As Workshop Manager, he brings his knowledge of working on the floor, as well as his respect and empathy, into his relationships with his team.
“It’s been challenging to navigate the boss/friend relationship. I used to be on the workshop floor with these guys and now I’m managing them. But we’re a small team, so we have a family culture. And like any family, we’ve been known to have a few tiffs but at the end of the day, I can’t think of better people to work with.”
At our Goulburn workshop, Mitch manages and supports his team as they operate plant equipment, find and repair faults, and maintain, service and inspect our fleet of locomotives. With each loco weighing up to 130 tonnes, Mitch is proud of his team’s deep commitment to Rail First’s strong values around safety.
“No one’s had any major injuries or been taken out of action because we’re always looking out for each other. Before confronting a challenge, we make sure we get together and work out a game plan so everyone knows exactly what they’re doing. That way, we can work together to anticipate any problems we might have and how to overcome them.”
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A home-grown hero
Mitch is a born-and-bred Goulburn boy, and he’s always aspired to give back to the community that raised him. His interest in rail stemmed from a desire to follow in his family’s footsteps.
“My grandfather actually worked at the Goulburn Roundhouse, which is right next door to our maintenance facility. I’d always had an interest in rail, so once I got my trade certificate, I knocked on the office door at Rail First and started two weeks later.”
Mitch was drawn to Rail First through his genuine passion for rail, but stays because the working culture is unlike any other. He sees his team as more like his family, and knows Rail First feels the same way about him.
“My brother has muscular dystrophy, and about five years ago, the company did a fundraiser for him. Everyone pitched in, and we raised enough money to buy him a four-wheel-drive wheelchair, so he could get around town as easily as possible. I couldn’t believe Rail First’s generosity. It was such a feel-good moment, and it just made me feel like, ‘Wow, that’s why I choose to work here.’”
Our family culture is undoubtedly what Mitch loves more than anything about working with Rail First. When asked about his hopes for the future, his only wish is that this never changes.
“My biggest thing is to keep our culture because it really is the best part about us. We’re reliable, we’re hardworking, and we look after our team both in terms of safety and through upskilling and learning opportunities. And I know we’re investing even more time and money into training, which I’m looking forward to rolling out for our team.”