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Insights What do transport planners do?

19 February 2020

I'm Sam, a Framework Manager at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, in the UK. And I work with the Transport Planning Practice in Cambridge. My colleagues have to be one of the biggest pluses of working here. Everyone is always very supportive of each other!

image of Sam smiling

What is a Transport Planner?

There's no one-size-fits-all description. Transport Planning is such a broad area with so much diversity. Transport Planners can come from so many backgrounds, such as mathematics, science or humanities. And each of these disciplines will give you skill sets in different areas of the field. You can make a career as a Transport Planner wherever your interests lie, from looking at economics and business cases to modelling, data analytics, transport policy, strategic planning – or a mixture of everything!

Why transport planning?

I've always had an interest in transport, so a career that involved optimizing its systems was appealing. I also find it rewarding to work on something which can have such a dramatic influence on people's every-day lives. My Physics degree gave me many transferable skills in data processing and numerical modelling, so transport planning seemed the best way to combine my skills and interests.

How did you come to work for Atkins?

I was searching across a range of opportunities while at University and Atkins stood out as having an excellent graduate programme. The recruitment team was always very responsive and helpful. The Graduate Assessment Centre process, while challenging, was also really welcoming. It made me feel like I would fit into the company well. So I was delighted when I was offered a position in Cambridge.

What tips do you have for anyone attending an interview at Atkins?

I can honestly say that Atkins' interviewers are not there to trip you up. Just be yourself, try to relax as much as you can and above all, be honest! Most of our interviews will feel more like a chat than a quiz. Don't be afraid to ask questions either. 

What has your experience been like at Atkins?

I've had 12 years' experience at Atkins, and it's been amazing! I've enjoyed so many technical challenges and opportunities to try new things and develop personally. While maintaining my technical development, Atkins has also helped me progress and grow my confidence in other areas, such as Project Management and Client Engagement.

Tell us about a few of your projects, big and small.

     image of the London Olympic park

I've been fortunate to work on many high-profile projects during my time at Atkins. I was involved in planning for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. I helped test the designs for the Olympic Route Network to ensure athletes and officials would be transported safely, reliably and quickly around The City, between their accommodation and the events. This task involved some large-scale modelling of the road network within London, which was tremendously exciting. I've also worked on possibly the largest highways scheme in the country – the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme. Being a Cambridge local, it was inspiring to see the project evolve, from option testing different concepts, through public consultation and engagement events, to finalizing the designs for individual junctions. It's now satisfying to see the construction phase in progress!

Did you ever feel overwhelmed working in a global company like Atkins?

Not at all! Despite it being a multinational company, everyone is treated as an individual. So it's easy to see how your contribution to projects helps people in the 'real world.' There are also so many positives to working for a company with a global reach. It creates endless opportunities to take on diverse workloads and to stay challenged. 

Who inspires you at Atkins?

Everyone I work with it uniquely inspiring. The local team is brilliant at supporting each other and being on hand to offer help and guidance at any level. We have so many different technical specialists that naming one would be unfair. Everyone at Atkins contributes in their own way, and that in itself is an inspiration.

Do you have any advice for people starting a career in your field?

Never say 'no' to an opportunity. There will always be something to learn or gain from it, even if it pushes you outside your comfort zone. Also, remember to ask for help or support whenever you need it. Atkins is filled with highly experienced staff who are always ready to lend a hand and help you develop.

How about working in a place where you can grow and challenge yourself at every career stage? We’re hiring - browse our latest transport planning roles and get your application started.