Hi Alex, you’ve worked in Transport Planning since you graduated – tell us a bit about why you chose this area of planning to focus your career on.
Well, I never knew I wanted to be a Transport Planner, or even knew what Transport Planning was, until I started studying Geography at Cardiff University. In my third year, I opted to take a module on the geography of transport and mobility, which is where I began to learn about the effects of transport on place, the environment, economics, and society.
I think transport can often be perceived as being quite niche, but the more you delve into it the more you realise how diverse it really is, and its importance in shaping a more sustainable future. The ever-changing nature of Transport Planning and the variety of work that comes with it is something that I really enjoy.
It sounds like ‘place’ means a lot to you?
Yes, placemaking has been an interest of mine since school and university. I chose to study Human Geography at Cardiff University because I loved learning about how the world works and my role here at Axis has allowed me to utilise and apply this knowledge to help shape future developments.
What happened when you arrived at Axis after you graduated?
To be honest, I was in at the deep end! Learning on the job was valuable experience for me, and the Transport Planning team are so knowledgeable – I had loads of people to learn from. Even the Directors spent time with me. And there’s no arrogance that sometimes comes along with expertise – as Nick said to me, ‘we are all always learning’.
I like that about here. Learning and personal development is really encouraged, and I’ve enjoyed learning new skills from my colleagues. It’s also nice to now be able to use my knowledge and skills to help other people, both colleagues and clients.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy bringing my knowledge of ‘place’ into my role here at Axis – it’s something I’m encouraged to do. The range of projects and having the opportunity to work on a variety of different aspects of Transport Planning is something I really enjoy about working at Axis, but also the supportive and close-knit culture.
We often work closely with our colleagues in planning and design, and it is great to be able to draw on their knowledge and experience. We’re all aware of each other’s individual specialisms and we lean on each other for support when we need it. This means that we have plenty of opportunities to work on different types of projects and to do a variety of different tasks, which is another thing I really enjoy. Every day is different.
Give me an example?
So, one day I could be creating technical drawings on AutoCAD or working on detailed traffic and junction models, the next I could be writing reports or be out of the office on a site visit or attending client meetings. Axis also works on projects of all scales and nature across a variety of sectors like education, retail, energy, commercial and residential, and each project comes with its own unique challenges.
As a Senior Transport Planner, what’s your greatest challenge?
I feel it’s important to create sustainable developments that people and communities can use and enjoy in the future. But it’s sometimes tricky to balance client expectations and the interests of local stakeholders whilst also complying with relevant policies and guidance. Navigating these competing interests can be very challenging but I have learnt that patience and good communication are key to overcoming this and developing effective solutions.
Are there many changes in Transport Planning regs?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, Transport Planning is continually changing, even more so recently in light of the government’s net zero target, advances in technology and changes that have come about since the pandemic. This means that policy and guidance are also continually being updated to reflect these changes and so staying on top of them of them is really important.
And finally, what three tips would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
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