Halfpoint - Fotolia

Network Rail announces Could IT Be You 2016 competition winner

UK rail network manager Network Rail announces the winner of the 2016 cohort of its IT talent competition

Network Rail has announced the winner of its 2016 Could IT Be You competition, designed to give teenage girls the opportunity to learn more about job roles in the firm.

Girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were asked to describe how they would use technology to make life better in the future. The competition received more than 350 initial entries.

Talia Grantha, a 17-year-old student from Northamptonshire, was announced as this round’s winner.

She suggested that technology could be used to improve lives through a location and language agnostic online discussion platform, which would allow members to discuss issues important to them.

Grantha also proposed the design for a toilet-finding application during the applications development stage of the competition.

She stated that the Network Rail competition allowed her to understand the different types of careers available in IT and engineering.

“I’m really interested in a career in business strategy, but I hadn’t really thought about opportunities in IT until now,” she said. 

“Meeting the people at Network Rail opened my eyes to the massive role IT plays in our daily lives and how it keeps our rail network running each day. The people at Network Rail have a really varied background and there’s a huge variety of skills needed to work in IT that aren’t necessarily computer related.”

Opportunities in Stem

The Network Rail Could IT Be You competition was set up by the firm’s former CIO and current director responsible for shared services Susan Cooklin

She created it to encourage more girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects, and to give girls the opportunity to learn about the different careers available in IT and engineering.

The competition acts to address the lack of role models in the Stem-based industries.

As part of the competition, Grantha won work experience at Network Rail, where she will have the opportunity to work with people in different roles across the business. She also won funding for her first year of university fees.


The five runners-up in the competition were Ashley de Haye, Eliza Short, Taylor Hartnett, Amrita Panesar and Abigail Richards.

Taylor Hartnett suggested technology could be used as a revision timetabling and research tool, and designed a fashion application which matches your clothes with the current weather.

Eliza Short used technology as a fundraising tool for a local youth project and developed an application for the over 60s.

Amrita Panesar stated she wanted to work in artificial intelligence to improve education and save lives, and at the competition day proposed the development of a mass communications tool for the general public.

Abigail Richards suggested technology’s biggest use should be for communication to drive positive change, and designed an app providing students information about meals and recipes.

Each of the runner’s up will be given a week of paid work experience and a year of mentoring from the Network Rail IT team.

Read more about Stem

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment