Category: 3Squared Team

National Careers Week 2023: Cultivating careers at 3Squared

Photos of 3Squared graduate.

To mark National Careers Week 2023, we spoke to our graduates here Jake Minor and Dom Petrauskas about all things 3Squared, software development and testing, and their career development so far.


Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer

Photo of Jake Minor

Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer

Can you tell us more about your current role at 3Squared and what it involves day-to-day?

“As an Associate Software Engineer, I am responsible for developing and testing code for RailSmart PathPlanner, as well as collaborating with the wider team and business so that I can ensure that the features I develop fall in line with the products requirements.

“Once I have caught up with any updates and planned my goals for the day, I attend my morning stand-up and then after that, I can start coding. Primarily I work on RailSmart PathPlanner, however I have also had the opportunity to lead the development on the company’s internal UI package.

“Depending on the day, I attend and contribute towards a variety of meetings around the project such as refinement, bug triage, external meetings with stakeholders etc. and internal wider business meetings such as the social committee catchup, development team meetings, WAMs, and Lunch and Learns

“As of most recently, I have also been leading the engagement with Sheffield Hallam University by getting 3Squared involved in their Scrum Weeks. This engagement started off the back of a suggestion I made to one of the senior members of staff, demonstrating 3Squared’s willingness to listen to staff suggestions and support personal growth.”


How has 3Squared supported your career development so far?

“Since returning to 3Squared 8 months ago off the back of a 14-month placement, I have already received so many opportunities from the company to support my development.

“One of the main ways 3Squared has supported my career development is through how friendly everyone at the company is. Working with such approachable people on a day-to-day basis has allowed me to learn so much about software development and the operations of the wider business, by having the freedom to ask questions.


“Another way the team has supported my career development is through the training on offer. For example, I have been able to attend DDDNorth and have begun working  towards becoming an Azure Developer Associate.

“Finally, the company has supported my career development by allowing me to take responsibility for projects such as RailSmart Path Planner, the internal UI package, and the Sheffield Hallam engagement. By giving me these opportunities, I have been able to learn and apply a variety of different technical and non-technical skills.”


How has your experience in this role impacted your outlook regarding future opportunities?

“I believe that my role as an Associate Software Engineer has directly impacted my career path and future opportunities. My role at 3Squared has allowed me to explore and develop a variety of different technical such as Database management, API development using dotnet, UI development using Vue.js and Typescript, UI automation testing using and Mirage to a range of interpersonal skills such as collaboration with different departments and communicating with key stakeholders.

“My experience at 3Squared has given me a clearer understanding of where my passion in software engineering lies and using this understanding it will allow me to hone my skills and understanding what I would be looking for in the future.”


Do you have any advice for those who are looking to take a similar career path?

“My main advice for anybody who is looking to get involved in software engineering is to be passionate, willing to learn and to get stuck into coding!

“Overcoming the fear of writing code for the first time because it is “too technical” or “hard to understand” is one of the toughest parts of coding in my opinion. There are a variety of good online resources to start with, which are freely available for anyone to use. In my case, getting stuck into them sparked a real passion and curiosity.

“Even if you think that the code you are writing is inefficient or basic, it’s okay as everyone starts somewhere! In my experience, it’s so nice to have these early projects to look back on after a few months or years down the line, as you can see the progression in the quality of code you are writing.

“My last piece of advice is to never to be scared to be wrong, even after the 5 years that I have been writing code (which I understand isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things!) I have found that there is always someone else who knows more, and they’ll be able to tell you how to improve your code.

“Surrounding yourself with people who have more experience and can tell you when you are wrong is crucial to learning, especially in software engineering. I noticed that after my placement at 3Squared, that my ability to write quality code had skyrocketed due to being surrounded by people who had more experience using the technologies and techniques which I had been learning at university. I believe that this heavily contributed towards graduating with a First in Software Engineering!” – Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer



Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer

Photo of Dom Petrauskas

Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer

Can you tell us more about your current role at 3Squared and what it involves day-to-day?

“A typical day in my role as a graduate QA (Quality Assurance) engineer consists of numerous testing-related tasks, though these do not necessarily involve using the products. Running triage meetings, attending planning and estimation sessions, and contributing to internal resources are some of the other responsibilities that come with my role.

“As for the hands-on testing part of the job, there are always opportunities for exercising the products using a variety of techniques, including functional, API, automation, and performance testing.”


How has 3Squared supported your career development so far?

“During my time at 3Squared so far, I have had ample opportunities for developing not only my technical skills through working with different technologies but also my character by having responsibility entrusted and support and encouragement provided. It also goes without saying that much of this is credited to the individuals that I have the pleasure of working with.”


How has your studies interconnected with your real-life experience at 3Squared?

“Having spent a little over a year on placement through university, the exposure to ‘real-world’ software development allowed me to better organise my own assignment work during the final year.

“When applying for placement roles, I specifically wanted to try testing simply because it contains many distinct fields, each requiring specific skills. Because of this role, I have been exposed to many principles which overall has given me a good grasp of professional software development  and consolidated my career path. Some things cannot be learned, and I was glad to have had the opportunity to spend my placement applying the theory learned in the years prior.”


Do you have any advice for those who are looking to take a similar career path?

“For anyone interested in pursuing a career in software testing, I would gladly vouch that it is more than just clicking buttons. Assuring software quality is about learning and understanding software from a different technical angle and it can be as technical as you make it, not to mention the fun you have doing it.” – Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer



Thank you to Jake and Dom for their insight into life as a graduate at 3Squared. To find out more about joining our team, head to our careers page.

International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 – 3Squared

Graphic featuring photos of women from across 3Squared.

The 8th of March marks the annual International Women’s Day (IWD), and this year’s theme #EmbraceEquity spotlights true inclusion and equity. This refers to how individuals have different circumstances, and therefore, require different resources and opportunities in order to reach an equal outcome. The IWD organisers are calling on everyone to fully #EmbraceEquity, today and beyond.

Graphic featuring photos of women from across 3Squared.

To celebrate this year’s IWD, we spoke to women from across the business about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), career development, and more.

Can you share more about your career path?

“In terms of my career path, I figured out what I didn’t like before I found what I do like – working in law firms and property management before realising that finance is what I wanted to do. It’s still not what I expected to be doing after I graduated from university with a degree in history, but if you fancy a conversation spanning renaissance Florentine art and IFRS accounting standards then I’m your woman!” – Rachel Scholes, Finance & Facilities Manager


“I didn’t take the traditional career path. I didn’t study at university or take a course. I had seen my friend coding and was confused but intrigued by it. I wanted to try it for myself so made the most out of Google to learn how. I then stumbled across UI/UX design which I hadn’t heard of at the time but loved the idea of it so dived headfirst into learning about that. Over time, I built my portfolio up with designs I’d made for family and friends and then 3Squared offered me my first full-time role and my UI/UX career kicked off from there.

“My advice is that if you’re thinking about this career path, just do it. And if you can’t find a path to follow, make your own.” – Nikita Campbell-Smith, UI/UX Designer


Do you have any advice to offer women who want to follow a similar career path and/or join this sector?

“Though it can be cliché, the advice that I would share with women wanting to embark on a similar career path is to be authentic and find an organisation and a boss that values the person you are. It’s not sustainable or enjoyable to try to fit into a culture that is not right for you, and you will not do your best work. Once you find your fit, you will produce your best work and opportunities will inevitably follow.” – Martine Dodwell-Bennett, Divisional Director


“In terms of advice, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has different learning styles. Studying whilst gaining experience at the same time really worked for me, but you have to discover what works best for you. There is lots of variety in marketing, and developing a transferable skill set also enables you to work in different industries – so there are lots of opportunities available.” –

Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager


“My main advice is never to stop learning and always be willing to listen and absorb information from everyone you meet – no matter where they sit within an organisation.” –

Claire Booth, Head of Customer Support


Can you speak on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)?

“This sector is already generally inclusive for women. However, I think it’s important to learn how to challenge constructively. Asking questions ensures you design the right solution for your people based on relevant insights.

“Importantly, in an inclusive culture, people feel that their contributions are valued, and their voices are listened to and respected. As a business creating an inclusive culture, hiring diverse talent, and supporting individuals to develop and champion talent mobility, we are supporting greater equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.” – Emily Wilde, HR Manager


“In regards to EDI, I think it is crucial to have a range of people and voices within any organisation. The more different voices involved leads to a variety of viewpoints and ideas as well as innovative problem-solving concepts. I have found that that the more diverse the group is, the more open the teams are to new ideas and potential improvements which can only be a good thing!” – Noni Bryson, Project Manager


“I strongly believe in diversity should be a building block of everything tech companies do.  Diverse workplaces increase the likelihood of uncovering issues in the development process as different perspectives and experiences can be taken to account. By having a diverse team of testers, companies can ensure that their products are tested by individuals with different perspectives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds.” – Priya Jana, Quality Assurance Engineer


Is there a woman in particular who inspires you?

“The woman who has most inspired me is my grandmother Lady Isobel Mary (Molly) Wood. She was one of the first women to go to Bristol University early in the 20th Century. In 2009, already aged 100, she returned to the university (with all of the family in tow) as the guest of honour at Bristol University’s own centenary celebrations, where she was awarded an honorary degree and warmly welcomed as their oldest living student. She lived to be 105, dying in 2014 and saw so many changes – she said the most amazing thing was women in Britain getting the vote.” – Claire Booth, Head of Customer Support


Thanks to the team for sharing some wonderful advice and insights!


You can read our other blogs on similar topics, including Working as a woman in the rail technology industry and Diversity and inclusion at 3Squared.


Making the complex simple – An insight by Sean Twycross

Graphic with post title 'Making the complex simple' with photo of Sean Twycross

An insight by Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared:

My 3Squared journey so far

I joined the business back in 2015 from the port industry as a Project Manager tasked with supporting a wide breadth of projects across the business. Two years later, I was promoted to Senior Project Manager. Now in my role of Head of Delivery, I am responsible for the part of the product journey that ensures 3Squared continues to deliver market-leading products, advancements and software solutions that are the best fit for each customer.

Photo of Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared

Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared

Over the last 8 years, I have been part of 3Squared’s extraordinary rise from providing a variety of industry software solutions, to solidifying our presence and becoming the go-to software company for the rail industry. A good example of that is RailSmart which has grown from one software solution into a comprehensive suite of six core rail industry applications. With our parent company EPM spearheading the vision for the transport business across the board, 3Squared is equipped to continually develop products of quality and strength in the rail industry.

No day is ever the same

I am inspired by the forward-thinking structure of the business which integrates not only product development but also customer experience, with a dedicated Customer Success team.

My role is a holistic one so involves working with my colleagues across our departments. We achieve a balance of workflow that delivers the solutions on time, and we then follow that up with ongoing customer support. The Customer Success team ensures that customers are helped with making the best use of all the application features and receive ongoing support.

Operating in an ambitious and diverse industry

The rail industry is a fascinating context in which to apply software solutions. Our product development must match the ambitions and real-life challenges that specialists on the ground making ambitious and diverse improvements to the rail system have.

As Head of Delivery, I am always bringing our activity and decision-making back to the fundamentals of delivering value, quality and enhancements that are viable and relevant.

The scope of each project is dependent on what is going on externally, and client communication (online and face-to-face) is of paramount importance to guarantee the overall success of a project. Planning is key here; at project kick-off meetings product owners and the development team agree upon exactly what work will be accomplished during the ‘sprint’, and as a team, we commit to those deliverables within a set time period.

The project sponsor has trusted us to deliver something that will bring tangible benefits to their business, and we take that seriously. Our project managers are there to make sure clients are informed every step of the way and that implementation dates are managed effectively. We need to help our customer make changes within their businesses, and we are passionate about them being successful.


One of the common things we come across in the software industry is providing solutions that give too much complexity without addressing the core need. As we develop solutions, we validate the problem each application function resolves. Pairing back application design and build is an art and science, and this is something I am proud to be part of. Collectively at 3Squared we excel at this and sustain high levels of quality solutions for our customers due to this approach. It is our job to make the complex as simple as possible.

Supporting the wider business

A key function of the team is to work across the business and ensure that projects are progressing and maintain continuous communication with clients, to keep them up to date on their project’s progress.

Project management is often cited as the ‘backbone’ of the business, and the department that ensures the business delivers profitable projects. The team works hard to ensure that forecasting is succinct and that the business can take on more projects and hire additional resource where necessary.

The world of rail technology is constantly evolving and always driving forward. It is an exciting industry in which to work, and one which I would fully endorse to anybody who is interested in making a career.


To find out more about 3Squared and how we can support your digital transformation, contact us today. 

3Squared ‘Meet the team’ – Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager

Photo of 3Squared Sales and Account Manager Jason Greig

3Squared Sales and Account Manager Jason Greig

In our first ‘Meet the team’ instalment of 2023, we spoke to Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager, on the power that engagement and collaboration have in his role, what drew him to a career in rail and how technology can overcome a diverse range of customer issues:  

Hi Jason, what are your main roles and responsibilities at 3Squared?  

My main role is to ensure that we are the go-to business for technology solutions within the rail sector. This means building relationships within the sector, so I can advise where 3Squared can offer support in resolving customer issues. 

What drew you to your role at 3Squared?  

I moved back to Sheffield and was looking for a forward-thinking company to work for. My role at 3Squared was suggested by a colleague who works for the parent company, EPM Group. Having viewed some of the information on the company, it was a no-brainer that this was the right company for me. 

Can you provide us with an overview of your experience to date and what drew you down your career path?  

I have been in tech sales for 20 years, predominantly in the Apprenticeship/Education sector. I don’t think anyone ever chooses sales as a career path, but I soon discovered I was good at it, and that I enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of supporting customers in successfully solving their issues. I have limited rail experience; however, this is growing daily, and I do know how to solve customer issues through harnessing technology.  

What excites you about the world of rail technology?  

Rail technology is fascinating, and I never knew there was so much brilliant technology being used in the sector. That said, there are still some old-fashioned ways of working taking place, where the introduction of tech could make such positive differences if it’s adopted in the right way- not just from a process perspective, but also time, money, and risk. 

Having family in the rail sector gives me an insight into the day-to-day processes and challenges that you may not always get visibility of in a B2B conversation. A combination of this and discussions with our customers and prospects, leads me to believe that there is still a long way to go with getting tech embedded in some areas of the sector, something that I think 3Squared can play an integral role in.  

How integral are collaboration and engagement to the world of rail?  

Quite simply, massive. 

What do you enjoy about the working culture at 3Squared?  

Since joining 3Squared, I have been made to feel very welcome. There is lots to do internally which will make us more efficient and enable us to have more impact externally.   

I have very little doubt that the 3Squared team will pull on each other’s strengths to ensure that we are successful. This winning culture is one of the reasons I was attracted to the company. 

Being new to the rail industry I am currently building my network so please watch out for my call, email, or LinkedIn connection request. I am sure that we have solutions that will be able to help most companies in the rail sector and look forward to forging connections and relationships in 2023.  

Thanks for giving us an insight into your role, Jason. If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here or get in touch via [email protected]   

3Squared ‘Meet the Team’ – Izzy Mallon, Technical Product Owner

Izzy Mallon, Technical Product Owner

In the latest instalment of our ‘Meet the team’ feature, we spoke with Izzy Mallon, Technical Product Owner, on what drew her to the world of rail, the opportunities for problem solving that her role presents and the key advice she would give to women looking to forge a career in technology, and more:

Hi Izzy, can you give us an insight into your main roles and responsibilities at 3Squared?

At 3Squared, I am a Technical Product Owner, where I help develop 3Squared products. This involves working with both the software development and service design team to design new solutions and scope out new requirements. My role also includes programming; this could be anything from fixing a small grammar bug to implementing new features within applications.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

There is a lot of opportunity for problem solving. I love the creativity and teamwork required to tackle a complex problem and create a solution that meets user needs and is really simple to use.

I also enjoy being able to develop new skills. The tech industry is constantly evolving, so there are always exciting new challenges to take on, with new learning opportunities.

What do you enjoy about the culture at 3Squared?

I started at 3Squared straight from university and found that everybody was friendly and supportive in helping me to learn. I was able to share any problems I was having during project work, and I was taught new skills to figure out how to solve them. I love the culture here, as there are plenty of social events where you can get to know your colleagues.

What does your day-to-day look like?

Every morning begins with a stand up, but otherwise, my day-to-day work varies throughout the week. Some of my days will be filled with different programming tasks, fixing bugs, or implementing change requests. On other days I will be investing time into new work that will be coming into my project, which can range from estimation sessions, sprint planning and refinement sessions, to much more.

What excites you about the world of rail technology?

How the work that we do makes people’s jobs easier. Harnessing data can give insights into how the rail industry can improve and make railways safer and greener. It is exciting to be working on projects where you know that you are making a practical difference to people’s lives.

What advice would you give to women looking to forge a career in tech?

As someone who only started programming after university, going into a tech career was all new to me. The jargon used was a whole different world, and it was easy to feel like it wasn’t for me, but I found that through persevering it became exciting to see the impact the power of technology can have in solving complex problems and making them simple. I think it is best to just get stuck in!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Once you are a few weeks or months in, it can be easy to forget what you didn’t know at the beginning, so other people probably want to ask the question as well. Also, don’t be intimidated by people who have been in tech for a long time, as being able to bring other skills and different ways of thinking can be really valuable.

Thanks for sharing your interesting insights, Izzy. If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here or get in touch via [email protected]

3Squared Appoints Martine Dodwell-Bennett in Role of Divisional Director

Martine Dodwell-Bennett, Divisional Director

Rail software and solutions specialist 3Squared are pleased to announce the appointment of Martine Dodwell-Bennett in the role of Divisional Director.

Martine brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise from across the technology space to 3Squared. Martine’s role will be to enhance current processes and enable the business to make change happen and drive innovation across the rail industry.

Prior to joining 3Squared, Martine was Senior Business Consultant at AXA UK, Director of Sales Channel Operations at Lutron Electronics and Sales and Marketing Director at Steljes Ltd.

Passionate about understanding the customer journey, throughout her career Martine has provided a wealth of business propositions, underpinned with operational excellence and support, and has built rewarding team environments, across UK SMEs, newly listed companies, and global world leaders.

In the role of Divisional Director, Martine will be focused on taking the time to listen to the organisation’s customers and build the business’ proposition to address their emerging needs. Martine will also be developing the team at 3Squared, engaging with new talent, and nurturing existing talent within the business.

Martine commented on her appointment: “I am excited to learn more about the challenges within the rail sector and how we can help those working within the industry to achieve their goals and make a difference. Putting the customer at the centre and anticipating and meeting their needs is at the heart of this.

“I’m looking forward to identifying the hurdles for implementing digital solutions to ensure that successful implementations take place across both freight and passenger operations, delivering positive change for the wider rail industry.”

If you would like to find out more about Martine’s role and say hello, get in touch with us via [email protected]

3Squared ‘Meet the team’ – Graham Cooper, Head of Product & Marketing

Graham Cooper, Head of Product & Marketing

In the latest instalment of our ‘Meet the team’ feature, we spoke with Graham Cooper, Head of Product & Marketing, on how integral communications is to the rail industry, how Graham’s expertise in the education sector is informing his work in rail, and much more:

Hi Graham, can you give us an insight into your main roles and responsibilities at 3Squared?

I’m responsible for the Product Management and Marketing functions at 3Squared. The Product Management part of that means that I work with the great team at 3Squared to make sure that the RailSmart suite and our other products have all the right features and functions in to meet the challenges of running a modern, increasingly digital railway.

I also talk to lots of our customers to see ‘what’s next’ and make sure we continue to innovate and offer solutions that keep 3Squared at the forefront of digital rail technology with solutions that operators need to meet the challenges in front of them.

The Marketing element means I’m responsible for letting our customers know about the solutions we offer and that they understand how 3Squared’s products can improve how they run their rail businesses.

How has your experience in the education sector informed your experience within the rail sector?

That’s an interesting question. There are many differences of course. Where I used to worry about technology solutions for around 20,000 schools, now the numbers are much less – perhaps 40 passenger train and freight operating companies plus those businesses working in the rail supply chain.

There are not really any obvious parallels between the two, apart from the fact that most people have experienced both education and rail. Everyone has been to school and most people have been on a train.

However, the two industries do have some things in common. Both sectors are full of very passionate people who fervently believe in the benefits and impact of the services they provide. Both sectors are ripe for digital transformation and realising the benefits of delivering a better, more joined up experience that people have come to expect from their experience of consumer grade technology and software. Both rail and education have some catching up to do here – but it’s happening at pace now and we are determined to play our part at 3Squared.

How integral is communications and marketing to the rail sector?  

Hugely important. It’s of little use if we build brilliant solutions for the rail sector and no-one knows or understands them.

Therefore, we will be working hard to showcase how our customers make use of the 3Squared RailSmart suite of products to run more efficient business operations and a safer railway. Our customers are our best advocates, and it is really their stories that I want to tell in our marketing.

What do you enjoy about the culture at 3Squared?

It’s a bit of a cliché for a tech company to have a ‘cool’ culture. But I can say 3Squared is a little different. There is a real fun and open atmosphere in the office, which is probably helped by the best stocked kitchen cupboards and fridges (there are three) I’ve ever come across. I’m now trying to lose the weight I put on after starting here!

The social committee is very active so there is always something happening. Bi-weekly whole-company catchups help everyone in the business keep updated with 3Squared news. And – one more thing. People in the office love trains! We have one guy with a model railway on his desk and the #trainnerds channel on Slack is very active.

What excites you about working in the rail industry?

I’m really enjoying learning about a new industry – lots of new terminology, acronyms, and customers to meet. I think I am asking fewer and fewer daft questions now, although my colleagues might disagree! I think I am most looking forward to seeing how technology impacts the railway in the next 3-5 years as I think there is so much possibility.

I’ve got some customer visits planned to see how our software is used ‘in the real world’, so I am super excited to see how 3Squared software is used onboard a train, or behind the scenes in the control room.

Like most people, so far, I have only really experienced the rail industry as a passenger, so this will be interesting and, of course, hearing directly from end users will help us build the best products possible that have more chance of meeting end user needs.

What does a greener, digital railway of the future look like to you?

This is hugely important and one of the things I am most passionate about 3Squared solutions helping with. The rail freight industry has the potential to make a huge impact on the nation’s carbon footprint by supporting modal shift from road to rail. I read that the average freight train removes around 75 HGVs from our roads – with a high reduction in CO2 emissions as a result.

We are working with the logistics teams on the HS2 project to deliver software solutions that help them plan freight movements for the earth that is coming out of the tunnel boring machines – which again, will remove upwards of 6,000 HGVs off the road during the project. I believe that we will see rail traction go fully electric soon – this too will have a big impact in creating a greener, cleaner railway.

Thanks for sharing your interesting insights and marketing takeaways, Graham! If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here and connect with Graham on LinkedIn or Twitter if you would like to say hello.

3Squared ‘Meet the Team’ – Jason Durk, Principal Consultant

3Squared Office Screen Shots

In the latest instalment of our ‘Meet the team’ feature, we sat down with Jason Durk, Principal Consultant at 3Squared, to hear more about his role at 3Squared, his fascinating experience within the rail industry and the exciting opportunities for the freight sector:


Can you give us an insight into your role at 3Squared?

I spend a lot of my time trying to understand the complexities which lead to the issues that occur on the railway and pick at them until I uncover what sits behind them. That provides me with the insight I need to help try and fix it.

With that in mind, if I were to sum my role up in one sentence, I would say it is to help deliver solutions to problems.


What drew you to the role and working for 3Squared?

3Squared has a very good reputation in rail and, being a relatively small company, is flexible and dynamic enough to move quickly to the challenging demands of the rail industry and the changing needs of its customers.

3Squared also has an advanced suite of software solutions, RailSmart, which have been designed to solve real problems and help railway staff fulfil their duties, which can be difficult in a heavily regulated industry.

The people are also great and it’s a very relaxed company to work for.


What excites you about working in the rail industry?

I have worked in the industry for almost three decades, starting at South West Trains in 1994 and have worked in many roles. I’ve also trained as a Guard, an On-Board Supervisor, and a Dispatcher.

I spent 13 years at the Rail Delivery Group (formerly the Association of Train Operating Companies) which afforded me the opportunity to understand the complexities of the railway, specifically around planning and operations, the interfaces between them and how they provide daily challenges in running a railway: every day is different and provides different challenges.

I have witnessed a lot of change in the last 28 years. I have seen the railway embrace technology and adopt smarter ways of working, I have seen the railway family pull together in times of adversity and I have seen colleagues go out of their way to help customers – and I mean “really” go out of their way. Once a colleague of mine took an old lady’s cat halfway across the country by train because she was too frail to take it herself; that’s true dedication and proper customer service!

The railway is many things to many people, but to me it is a diverse and dynamic beast that motivates its custodians to deliver the best possible service against a backdrop of change. That’s what excites me.


What are you looking forward to working on in the coming year?

The pandemic has altered the way we go about our everyday lives. Whilst teams are returning to the office, there are still more people working from home more frequently, which means they travel less. Whilst that’s positive for passengers as crowding is reduced, the railway is less commercially viable.

On the flipside, more people are buying more goods online which means more items need transporting. And this means there is the potential to run more freight trains and promote modal shift – i.e., get more containers onto trains. This benefits the UK by removing heavy goods vehicles off our already congested road network, reducing the carbon impact of transporting container freight by road, and increasing the profitability of the railway.

3Squared has developed a tool called PathPlanner that helps operators find freight paths in the timetable so that they can run additional trains. However, because of the complexities around freight timetabling, a high percentage of freight paths that exist in the timetable are not used, and this presents a bloated network. Therefore, finding space to add a new path is difficult, and work is required to overcome this. We will be working on in the next 12 months.


Can you tell us a bit more about your plans for PathPlanner?

3Squared will be enhancing PathPlanner over the next year, which will see us develop Machine Learning algorithms that will predict the paths that will not be used and highlight them. This will enable them to be removed from the timetable and unlock available capacity.

In 2021, Network Rail delivered a £17m upgrade project to strengthen the line at Southampton to take longer freight trains. Solent Stevedores, who operate out of Southampton Western Docks, are currently upgrading the track, dockside, to take in longer and more trains; and that work concludes in Spring 2023.

The project will see us working collaboratively with both Network Rail and Solent Stevedores (with crucial input from Logistics UK, Stobart, DP World and GB Rail freight) to help them realise the benefits of their investment by finding available paths to run more frequent and longer trains to and from Southampton.

Having worked in the passenger arena for so long, I find rail freight’s potential for growth extremely exciting, and am looking forward to working on this project to help our partners on this project deliver tangible benefits.


How integral is innovation to the rail industry?

Innovation has already played a key part in driving change in the rail industry and remains a key part in unlocking the efficiencies that a modern rail system requires.

There has been much talk recently of modernising the railway and bringing out-of-date working practices into the 21st century. When talking about innovation, we tend to think in terms of digital transformation and the associated benefits.

However, delivering innovation on the railway is as much about innovating around our people and processes and providing solutions that work in a very different environment, than when the railway first arrived.


What tips would you give to somebody looking to forge a career in the rail industry?

Just one – do not take “we have always done it like that” as an answer.

Thanks for sharing your interesting insights and journey, Jason! If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here.

3Squared ‘Meet the Team’ – Leon Martin, Junior Software Engineer

Leon Martin, Junior Software Engineer

When deciding on a career, there are several factors to consider. Will it be something you can see yourself doing in ten years? Does it excite you? Will there be room to learn and grow? Here at 3Squared, we are proud to support those looking to forge a career in rail and technology through our apprenticeship scheme, which Leon Martin, Junior Software Engineer, entered the company through.

To find out more about Leon’s experience of joining 3Squared, his apprenticeship and growth with the company so far, we recently sat down with him for our ‘Meet the Team’ content series, which you can read more about below:


Can you give us an overview of your role at 3Squared?

At 3Squared, I am a Junior/Apprentice Software Engineer. My role focuses on the development of our products, and I help with the development of new features. This includes writing the code that drives them as well as fixing bugs that have been raised, so that users continue to have a good experience with our applications.


What drew you to your role?

Ever since I was younger, I was fascinated by computers and technology and as I continued to grow up it only increased. Once I got my hands on experience with programming at around the age of 12-13, I was hooked. This comes from three main reasons – creativity, problem solving and results.

I enjoy having the freedom to create a solution to a problem. With programming, there are often many ways to solve an issue and being a developer it’s your responsibility to find the most efficient route to take. I enjoy experimenting with new technology as hands on experience always helps me to learn much faster.

Being able to see the finished result working and people using it confirms that all my efforts were not in vain.


What does your day-to-day look like?

I wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and sit down for my morning Scrums. Afterwards I crack on with some work up until lunch time which is usually around 1pm for me. Once I’ve had a bite to eat it’s back to work.

Depending on which week it is I may have project meetings just before and after lunch. Towards the end of the day, I’ll fill in my timesheet and tend to finish my working day around 4:30pm – 5pm.


What do you enjoy about working at 3Squared?  

The culture, people, and the work – everyone here is wonderful and I always enjoy a little chat when grabbing a coffee. The culture is extremely friendly, particularly for new starters. I always got help when I needed it, whatever questions I had were solved and even though I was shy at first, I quickly came out of my shell and fitted right in.

The work is always interesting – I’ve got my hands on different languages and technologies that I’ve never used before and managed to create production content with them. It’s been a great learning experience.


What excites you about working within the rail industry?

Feeling like I’m making a difference – the rail industry is quite literally very close to home and it makes the changes I am making feeling a lot more personal.

It’s crazy to give East Midlands Railway (EMR) a demo of some of our new features and then the next day I’m riding an EMR train. Understanding the industry itself, I had no idea how the rail industry works when I first started however after working on different applications, I now understand how much hard work goes into rail operations.


What advice would you give to somebody looking to forge a career in rail technology?

Get stuck into it as soon as possible. The rail technology industry is all about change so the more than you can learn and understand the better. Don’t be afraid of new things – with the constant rapid changing of the industry, you must be able adapt to change.


What is your favourite part about working in Sheffield?

There are many great places near the office itself, with a variety of restaurants, clothing, and book shops. It’s a great place for team lunches, socials, and AGMs with no shortage of places to go.


What drew you to the apprenticeship path and what value have you found out of this entry point into your career?

I knew I would gain extremely valuable experience from the apprenticeship, through the ability to be surrounded by computers and technology. I’ve found that I have learned so much these past two and a half years it’s unfathomable and even more than work or academic experience could provide; I have grown so much as a person.


What advice would you give for others looking to embark on an apprenticeship?

Don’t hold back and do it – an apprenticeship is a great way to gain real world experience as well as academic experience. Combined, these can really make for a good CV. It can also help you to learn, as by working you are surrounded by what you’re learning making it a lot easier to pick up than someone who only does one or the other.


Thanks for sharing your insight into life at 3Squared, Leon! If you would be interested in learning more information about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here.

3Squared ‘Meet the Team’ – Martin Gleadow, Solution Architect

Martin Gleadow, Solutions Architect

In this month’s ‘Meet the team’ series, we got the chance to sit down with Martin Gleadow, Solution Architect at 3Squared.

Martin is a well-known face across the rail industry and can often be found out and about at various events across the country, delving into the technologies and solutions that 3Squared are providing the rail industry with. Learn more about Martin’s role at 3Squared and what drew him to his career path, below:


When did you join 3Squared and can you give us an insight into your background before joining the company?

I joined 3Squared in January 2016 as Head of IT and Support. My background is very technical, having studied Mechanical Engineering and then Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, before developing a career in system administration on Linux and Windows servers at Technophobia back in 2005, when the internet was a much simpler place.

During my time there, I took on management responsibility for IT and grew a superb team, each of whom have gone on to do fantastic things and I am still in touch with today – I take great joy in seeing the success of others I have worked with and observing the connections I have made across so many exciting companies.

By the time I left, we were running a large multi-location virtualisation platform for a government organisation and working across multiple sectors.


Can you give us an insight into your role at 3Squared?

My role has evolved since joining six years ago, as when I first started I was looking after both IT and Customer Support. In this role, I was building upon the work people had done before me and helping the company to develop processes and practices as it grew, to ensure our applications remained available and our customers remained happy.

Last year, we reached the point where the Support Team was split out as a dedicated function, which has gone from strength to strength as detailed in last month’s ‘Meet the team’ feature. From then, my attention was refocussed on the needs of the rail industry and how we support them, alongside my responsibilities for IT.

I have been fortunate to once again develop a talented team to the point that I have been able to hand over IT to Chris Duncombe, and concentrate fully on our products, enabling me to take on the role of Solution Architect.

My role as Solution Architect sees me working closely with existing and prospective clients to bring together railway operations and technology solutions, in a way which solves business problems effectively. One of the key motivating factors for my job is being a part of the evolution and improvement of the rail industry to satisfy societal needs.


What drew you towards a career in rail and technology?

I have been fascinated by how things work from a very early age, from construction toys to taking things apart and trying to put them back together. For example, when a Commodore 64 turned up at my parents’ house one year I spent a lot of time programming in Basic from magazines and library books, turning that interest into computing.

Now, I have almost come full circle, as my work at 3Squared has brought me much closer to the mechanical again through exposure to the rail industry, where my fascination for how things work has been applied to the processes and operations that enable the smooth running of the railway.

I’ve long had an idle curiosity for this alongside my interest in looking “behind the curtain” to see what is usually unseen – as a rail passenger I would be interested in the infrastructure you see trackside and the various signs, signals, and noises you encounter, and it really has been great to get fully in to understanding all of this.


What does your day-to-day look like?

Each day is different which keeps me on my toes however it remains massively interesting. I particularly like getting out and meeting customers or rail industry colleagues, especially when it takes me to a live rail site, and I can see the processes we support in operation. I am a firm believer in knowing the operating context of any application and encourage everyone in 3Squared or across the wider industry, to take any opportunities they can to understand the working environment of our customers.

Industry networking events are also particularly useful, with organisations like Rail Forum, Rail Freight Group and the Railway Industry Association putting on fantastic events year-round, which really help facilitate a collaborative approach to problem solving. The friendly atmosphere within the railway family is really refreshing and invigorating to work with and helps us to understand the challenges and direction of the industry, as well as getting to know so many good people.

When I am not mobile, I will either be in the office enthusiastically discussing ideas, projects, and problems with the rest of the company, or getting my head down and getting stuck in to solving client problems. This might take the form of developing a business problem into a software need which the Service Design team can document ready for build, or collaborating with the Client Engagement team to aid our customers in getting maximum business benefit from our applications. I always try to be on hand to answer any questions that might arise about how the railway works or what terminology means, and love seeing the passion and enthusiasm which runs deep at 3Squared.


What advice would you give to somebody looking to forge a career in rail or technology?

Get stuck in! Whether rail or digital technologies – or indeed any other field – it really helps to apply yourself to finding out why these industries exist and the need for people to grow careers within them, and then look at how it is currently done.

Obviously, it is easier to just try things out with software, as the barrier to entry is very low and having been a hiring manager in a software company, I always looked for candidates with a spark of interest and curiosity and this comes across well if people have tangible projects to talk about, or if they are involved in local meetups such as Sheffield Devops or .net Sheffield.

It is never too late to change career and pick up IT experience either, as there are multiple routes in as well as the academic path. If you have an interest and an aptitude, then you can make it happen.

With rail, potential careers are so much wider than the highly visible ones such as driving, and all rail companies regularly run recruitment events where you can find out more about the options. Rail is a tight knit community, and once people work in the industry, they seem to stay in it for life while progressing their careers either in one company or moving around, alongside keeping all their professional connections.

There is a wealth of opportunities to enter at any level and opportunities to experience working in an operational railway, to bringing experience from other industries to rail. It is an exciting time to be involved with the transition from Network Rail to Great British Railways, the resurgence of rail freight to meet Net Zero targets and respond to changing needs, and investment in new routes and vehicles.


We hope you have enjoyed this insight into Martin’s fascinating role at 3Squared. If you would be interested in finding out more information about how you could join the 3Squared team, please get in touch with us here or by emailing [email protected]