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Stephen Edwards

Tuesday December 12, 2023

I am an experienced executive with a broad and successful background in operations management, business transformation, strategic development, outsourcing, product development, client management and sales. I have over 30 years’ experience developing and delivering the strategic, commercial and operational objectives of an organisation across a range of industry sectors including public transport, central and local government, telecommunications, utilities, oil and petrochemicals. 

As Executive Director and Director General for South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) I was responsible for ensuring the organisation fulfilled its statutory responsibilities for the delivery of public transport services across South Yorkshire and that the organisation maintained exacting standards of corporate governance and transparency. 

My responsibilities encompassed the strategic development of public transport across the region and the operational delivery of services. Highlights include: the provision of infrastructure and facilities ranging from bus stops and shelters through to interchanges and the Sheffield Supertram system; the development of the first voluntary bus Partnerships with local operators; the provision of passenger information through a range of media; the provision of integrated ticketing solutions; the provision of concessionary travel products to a range of passenger groups and the co-ordination of transport provision with a range of commercial operators. 

I was responsible for SYPTE’s financial performance overseeing an annual revenue budget of £65m and the delivery of a range of capital infrastructure projects, securing over £1bn of government funding for public transport schemes. These have included the first phase of tram infrastructure renewal, refurbishment of Rotherham Transport Interchange, the extensive programme of re-railing on the Supertram network and the construction of the country’s first Tram-Train system linking Rotherham and Sheffield. 

I worked closely with SYPTE’s Chair and Non-Executive Board members, all representatives from South Yorkshire’s four local authorities, on SYPTE’s strategic objectives and financial plan, ensuring close alignment with each authorities’ objectives. 

As well as its own governance arrangements SYPTE is part of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and I have broad experience of collaborating with the elected members of the South Yorkshire local authorities and elected Mayor. I oversaw the transition of SYPTE from a stand-alone entity to an integrated part of SYMCA, ensuring the continuation of appropriate governance and risk management functions. My role also required working with a range of stakeholder groups at national (government departments, Office of Rail and Road), regional (Transport Commissioner, Transport for the North) and local (range of user groups and community forums). 

A key challenge throughout my time at SYPTE has been managing the differing and sometimes conflicting priorities of stakeholders. Whether trying to reconcile ring fenced government funding allocations with local investment priorities, trade-offs between investments in regional partner schemes based on objective criteria or equal distribution of funding or negotiating local political differences. As local governance arrangements have become increasingly complex and funding has become more fragmented, stakeholder management has become increasingly important. 

I was a director of the Urban Transport Group (UTG), which represents the UK’s network of city region transport authorities. I had responsibility for leading on light rail issues, making the case to central government for the development of policies and provision that supported the ambitions of members and the sector. From 2019 to 2021 I also served as Chair of UTG, leading the development of constructive working relationships with central government, commercial operators and transport authorities. My time as Chair coincided with the outbreak of COVID-19 and a significant part of my tenure involved leading the operational response to the pandemic for members and in particular negotiating with central government for the provision of over £100m of funding to maintain essential transport services. 

From my time working in the private sector, I have a proven record of shaping the direction of an organisation’s development based on the challenges presented by both internal and external factors, ensuring it has the right strategy, capability and relationships to deliver its core functions and to expand into new areas of activity. I have effected change through improving operational performance, driving efficiencies and exploring better ways of working. I have led businesses into new areas of activity, developing new business opportunities and new markets. 

I have a strong operations background, having experience of developing and leading large, multi-site/multi-disciplinary teams to exceed client requirements and business development objectives in both customer service and back-office operations. 

I have led several change management projects, delivering tangible and sustained improvements in performance, quality and cost. I have experience of leading a large, complex organisation through demanding transformation involving changes to operational processes, systems and the organisation culture change associated with this. I have experience of delivering projects using a range of methodologies including Lean and Six Sigma.