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Insights Why become a transport planner?

My name is Laura, and I'm a Senior Transport Planner at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, in the UK. I've been with the business for over five years, working in the Transport Planning Practice. I'm part of the Cambridge team, where everyone enjoys pulling together to get the job done! 

What is a transport planner?

image of Laura smiling

A transport planner is someone who works across the entirety of the engineering business. We analyze existing traffic and forecast future years' traffic, always trying to improve the built environment for everyone who uses transport.

What got you interested in transport planning?

I did a degree in Geography and Town Planning but couldn't ever see myself as an urban planner. And then, a third-year module in Transport Planning changed my life. I suddenly realised this was a way I could make a positive impact on people's everyday lives – and I didn't have to become a Geography teacher!

How did you come to work for Atkins?

I found them on a career search website while studying for my Master's at Leeds University. They seemed more approachable than other transport consultancy companies to which I'd been applying.

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

Just be yourself. The people interviewing you are ultimately going to be the people on your project teams when you start. So it's a great way to learn about their jobs, share the great things you've achieved so far, and feel out whether you'd fit into the team. Never underestimate the importance of asking questions in a job interview as it showcases a genuine interest in the role you are applying for. 

What has your experience been like at Atkins so far?

Laura and the Transport Planning team on a ski trip

It's been great, and I've made a lot of friends along the way. I've been lucky enough to work with colleagues in many different disciplines across the Transport Planning office. I went on a three-month secondment to India. I was on the committee for two Graduate summer trips and the Graduate Ski Trip. When the opportunity came up to gain experience on the A14 project, I was able to transfer offices. At Atkins, you can achieve anything if you're dedicated and interested in what other people are doing.

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

Heathrow airport runway from a birds-eye view

I've worked on an extensive range of projects – from the smallest school Transport Assessments, with one traffic count and a short report, to the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme, to Heathrow Airport's Expansion. On the A14 project, I found myself visiting site offices, meeting contractors, attending public exhibitions about our work, and discussing drains designed to carry great crested newts. All of which I never imagined I could do when I agreed to the job!

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

Because of the company ethos, I don't ever feel like I'm working for a global company. Even though I regularly interact with colleagues from all over the UK and overseas, it feels like we are all one team. My immediate thoughts are always related to our Cambridge and wider Transport Planning team. I know that there are people in other Atkins' offices around the world doing the same job as me, but this only proves it's a small world.

Who inspires you at Atkins?

Laura and the Transport Planning team on a hike

The people around me are my inspiration. We're the ones that do the groundwork, and it always impresses me how hard we work to achieve good results. We keep pushing through and cheering each other up when someone has had a bad day!

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

Go for it! It's a work environment that is continually changing, so we continuously have to adapt to developments in technology. The climate change challenge is becoming increasingly important, and that makes it even more exciting. Whatever your interest in transport, there will be a project somewhere in Atkins where you can make a real sustainable difference!

Interested in joining a team that is shaping the future of our cities? We’re hiring, apply here.