‘Innovation’ is a pretty hot buzzword right now. From trends like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, to companies such as Google, Facebook and Airbnb, the idea of building the future really is at the forefront of so many hearts and minds. As Head of Innovation for Siemens Rail Systems, Jo Binstead knows this all too well, but for her, the idea of innovation isn’t just about storming ahead into a brave new world; many of her ideas and inspiration, in fact, come from the past.

What’s your approach to life when your job title is essentially ‘Head of New Ideas?’ For Jo Binstead, Head of Innovation for Siemens Rail Systems, it all comes down to thinking equally about the past, present and future.

Listen below to discover Jo’s take on innovation — or scroll down to check out the highlights of our chat.

“I live in Bournemouth, so when I travel to London I start at a station that was built in 1885 and it always reminds me of the vital role that railways have played in Bournemouth’s history. It used to take days and days on a horse and carriage to get here — it was essentially the railway that transformed Bournemouth and made it into the coastal resort it is today.”

“You go into Bournemouth station and you look at the sky through the glass in the top of the station building and you think, they didn’t just build it. They built it so it looks good and I’d like to hope we can all think of legacy in the same way.”

“I realize the massive responsibility we have not just to our forefathers but also to our descendants, so there’s still a world long after we’ve been and gone. Sometimes we forget when we sit in our offices that what we do has an environmental impact.”

“I’ve got a 17 and an 18-year-old son. Neither of them have expressed any desire to learn to drive. Why is it from one generation to the next, we don’t want to do the same things? Yes, there’s a political element to that but there’s also a market driver that means that somehow, they’ll need to express their freedom in a different way.”

“My mum died 20 years ago of cancer. She was lying on her deathbed and she said to me, “What have I ever done? I’m going to die and what mark have I left on the world?” I said to her, “You were a teacher. There will be people who remembered you teaching them, who you won’t even remember who somehow you made a difference to their life.”


Jo Binstead is a railway professional with over twenty years of experience in the fields of Product Management, Industry Marketing and Business Development. Through her role as Head of Innovation for Siemens Rail Systems, she focuses on opportunities for the rail sector and the ways in which technology can, and should, be adapted for the wider transport industry. Find out more about working with Siemens.

Jo is a Future Maker — one of the 372,000 talented people working with us to shape the future.

Words: Gemma Milne
Illustrations: Harry Tennant
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