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Katie Griffin: Breaking Stereotypes on the A11 as a Dedicated Traffic Management Operative

We caught up with Traffic Management Operative Katie Griffin to find out what she loves about working on the highways.

Katie Griffin: Breaking Stereotypes on the A11 as a Dedicated Traffic Management Operative


Katie Griffin is from Sutton Bridge, near the company’s base in Peterborough. Katie typically works away for the business on projects a little further afield than her based in Peterborough. Her first project away was delivering traffic management on the A11 Concrete Roads Framework.

I really enjoy the independence this gives me; I get to do my own thing. I’ve just got myself my own caravan, I’m sharing one at the moment, but now I’ll have my own space.

Katie joined HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd two-years ago on the recommendation of her then housemate, Sinead Ryan. Sinead is Lead Traffic Management Operative at the company’s Peterborough depot.  Prior to this Katie had been working at McDonalds and in the care industry but did not enjoy it. She said:

Initially, I thought, I can’t do that! I can’t lift a cone; I can’t lift a frame! But once you’ve got the technique, it’s fine. I learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I still don’t go to the gym, I don’t work out, but I can lift a frame now!

At first Katie worked in the yard at the Peterborough depot making signs. This is the typical entry point for new operatives whilst they build up their basic skills and get to know the business, although it is also a viable career option in its own right with yard operatives playing a crucial role in the logistics and delivery of a traffic management scheme.

After a month with the yard team, she started working nights on the network finally graduating from a trainee to a full operative in 2022. Katie currently works days on the A11 but wants to return to night work soon so she doesn’t forget the skills she has learned such as lane closures. This is because the variety of work an operative performs during the day is not the same as that at night when the traffic counts are quieter.

Katie has not experienced many barriers since becoming a traffic management operative. She explains that when people find out what she does for work, they’re mostly just surprised, curious and ask a lot of questions. Katie also notes that the attitude of whoever she meets during a shift will change in an instant when they realise that she is female:

I notice that when I’m on site I get treated differently by the public than my male counterparts. I remember one time I was down tying my lace and I could hear someone asking questions of my male coworker. The interaction was heated, but as soon as I stood up and they saw I was a female, the way they spoke changed immediately. They became a lot more patient and respectful. It comes in handy because it instantly de-escalates a situation. I’ve never felt threatened in my dealings with the public, because there has always been someone with me, or at the very least at the end of a phone if I have a question.

The industry is notorious for its long shifts, but Katie explains that it isn’t as hard as you’d expect to balance work and home life:

“I have friends who come and visit me and stay over with me in the week, I come home at weekends to spend time with my family and friends here. Yes, the job can take over your life if you let it, but that’s no different to any job you’re passionate about. It’s pretty normal really! This is where I want to be. I love the diversity of the work, it’s so different to anything else I’ve done before. I feel really supported. There is such a family feeling here at the Peterborough depot, and I get on with everyone. My family is so happy that I’ve found somewhere that I like!”