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In the company of thinkers

Making a sustainable impact on my world 
as a graduate transport planner.

I’m Suzannah, graduate transport planner at Atkins in the UK. I wanted to go into a career where I’d have the power to make a sustainable impact on the world around me. Transport of course, is a massive aspect of climate change and emissions. 
Image of Suzannah smiling

As a planner I think about how we can improve that through the work I do every day. I love working together with our team to deliver the best for people and the environment. At Atkins there are always opportunities to design things to be better!

What did you study at school and university?

I’ve always been interested in the sciences and how they link into the natural world. At A-Level I took chemistry, physics and geography and went on to study Physical Geography at uni, learning about climate change, energy, sustainability, and climatology. I’m a geographer but we have people from many different backgrounds in our teams. They include physicists, mathematicians and people with English degrees. It varies and transport offers something for everyone!

What does a transport planner do?

Many people think I spend my time drawing up plans. In reality my job is much more exciting. It is completely project based and there are two aspects to it, the ‘number side’ and the ‘literature’ side. The number aspect involves data analysis and modelling, which is essentially predicting what people will do and need in the future. The literature/legal based work involves writing reports, summaries, looking at policies, and stakeholder engagement, or talking to people.The two sides integrate and together we design things that influence how the public lives and gets around. We try to make our world safer and healthier through transportation. For example, we can try to influence the public to move away from cars and towards public transport.

What projects are you working on?

I’m working on two major projects, which make me feel I’m working to shape spaces and places that matter! My highways project is an M25 junction improvement. It involves building additional lanes, and reconfiguring the roundabout to reduce congestion across the whole area. I’m involved in the public engagement aspect of this scheme, meaning I spend a fair amount of time talking to our key stakeholders and landowners. 

On my other project I’m involved in data analysis and output for a future hub of High Speed 2 (HS2) in London. I’m not working on the actual railway line, but all the enabling services that make it possible for HS2 and the rest of station to run safely and efficiently in the future.

What excites you about the future?

Personally, I’m looking forward to becoming a Chartered transport planner in the next few years. As the business is sponsoring me to get qualified, I’ll get to work within all the different aspects of transport planning. At Atkins there is so much scope for growth and the chance for me to follow my own interests and ambitions. In general, I’m really interested in using smart technology to improve the world. For example, how might the inclusion of autonomous vehicles and smart traffic lights reduce congestion in the future? In the future we may use social media to influence the way people go about their business, and encourage people to make active and healthier travel choices, making our cities cleaner and more enjoyable.

What do you like best about Atkins?

Well, one of the first things I did after joining was to set up a crisp packet recycling system. Everyone got on board and so far we’ve recycled over 3,000 packets, reducing our carbon footprint. All of my colleagues are trying to design roads, rail and public transport as best they can. We’re all focused on getting people travelling more safely and sustainably, whilst reducing congestion and emissions. So one of my favourite things about Atkins is how we have people who really care about the environment working on our projects!

Interested in making a difference through your career? Find where you belong on our graduate development programme.