Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a... Tunnel manager

Business is not always about boardrooms, briefings and black coffee. In tribute to those who take a more unusual approach to enterprise, Deputy Business Editor Steven Hugill examines the unconventional and downright difficult careers in the North-East

Ron Henderson is tunnel manager at TT2, which operates the Tyne Tunnels.

How did your career begin? I started as an agent in the insurance sector.

Very early in my career the opportunity arose to work within the public sector, more specifically within transport at the Tyne Tunnels.

I started as a toll collector in 1984 and have progressed through the organisation for the last 30 years holding managerial positions for 12 of those years.

My current role as tunnel manager started shortly before the opening of the new tunnel in 2011.

Was the transport industry one you always wanted to work in? While it wasn’t planned from the start that my career would involve me working within the transport industry, it’s a sector that has always drawn my attention.

My interest in infrastructure and traffic management on a large scale has developed over the duration of the New Tyne Crossing project.

Working in public private partnership combines my interest within the transport industry, with technological advances while supporting the public sector and providing a service to the general public.

Customer service is key to the success of my business, and something that I have felt strongly about throughout my career.

What does your job entail? I manage all operational aspects of the facility, which is actually a half billion pound asset.

For example, this includes liaison with neighbouring authorities to maintenance of plant equipment.

My focus is always to provide a safe and efficient passage for our customers.

What are the biggest challenges in your role? The biggest challenge as tunnel manager is managing stakeholders’ expectations.

As you can imagine, as a large infrastructure project, our stakeholders are very diverse and have differing requirements.

I enjoy the challenges that this brings while recognising the importance of our customers and that they are key to our continuing success.

Tell me about how the tunnels have changed over the years? As technology has advanced, this has brought with it many changes to the tunnels and the industry as a whole.

We have moved from a labour intensive operation to a high-tech and fully automated business.

As a consequence of the developments, it has provided a safer environment for both staff and customers.