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Donna - Transport Coordinator, Former Territorial Army (TA), Driver

09 Jan
Donna spent four years in the Territorial Army (TA), where she gained her HGV licence and passed a number of other driving courses, including DROPS vehicle training. She left the TA in 1997 and is now Transport Coordinator at Keyline Edinburgh.

“As a DROPS vehicle trained driver, I had the opportunity of maybe being one of the first women ever sent to the frontline. But sadly, I had to be discharged from the TA’s Transport Corps for medical reasons, which was hugely disappointing. However, I loved driving and decided to make it my full-time career.

After moving to London, I worked as a driver for Travis Perkins and other builders’ merchants for a while. I also had a stint with the London Underground, where I gained my Transport Management qualification. In 2004, I moved back up to Scotland and started looking for another driving job. I applied for a role at Keyline in Edinburgh and began work there in February 2005.

I was initially based at the Portobello branch, but later relocated to Leith, where I’m still based today. I’d heard of Keyline but until I joined, I didn’t know it was part of the Travis Perkins Group. This was a nice surprise as I wanted to be part of a big, stable company that could offer me good career prospects.

I started out as a fulltime driver, which was great fun. There’s lots of freedom and, as long as you get everything done by the end of the day, you’re essentially your own boss. It’s great to be out and about meeting people, building customer relationships and finding out about building projects in your local area.

My driving career was suspended for a while in 2010, as when I was pregnant with my second child I couldn’t fit behind the wheel! I was made Transport Coordinator until I came back after maternity leave, when I started driving again. In January 2015, I was delighted to be promoted to Transport Coordinator on a permanent basis.

It’s a very varied role, covering things like vehicle maintenance, organising delivery routes and dealing with legal aspects such as driver tachographs. I also look after the branch’s fork lift trucks, sorting out any repairs or maintenance. Recently, I’ve also done a lot of relief driving, which is great as I get to split my time between the branch and the cab.

The biggest challenge about my role is getting deliveries out on time so we can keep the promises we make to our customers. The time management and organisational skills I learned in the TA have definitely come in useful, not to mention the ability to work well under pressure! Having said that, I love being busy and finding ways to solve problems and make our customers happy.

Working for Keyline means you get a lot of training opportunities – and it’s not just about role-related skills, such as driving and Health & Safety. You have access to the company’s online iLearn system which offers a huge menu of courses which you can use to develop your knowledge in new areas. The courses I’ve taken include tool hire, fire marshalling and people skills, to name just a few.

In my view, driving for Keyline is a great career choice for anyone leaving the armed forces. You’ll get all the training you need and have the reassurance that your vehicle is always safe and well-maintained. The company also offers a lot of support, such as the driver consultation programme that’s held every year to collect feedback and discuss issues.

As with any company, you’ll need to apply yourself and work hard to succeed at Keyline. But once your foot’s in the door, the opportunities to progress really are limitless.”
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