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Hannah Riechert

After finishing my Masters in Transport Planning and the Environment at the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds, I started as a graduate at JMP. Before moving to England from Germany for my Masters, I took my undergraduate degree in Applied Geography, Tourism and Spatial Planning at the University of Trier in Germany. As the reviews of ITS Leeds indicated it to be within the top 3 transport related institutes world-wide, I chose Leeds. I have always been interested in the environmental aspect of things which is why I chose the environmental stream of the programme. This covered the engineering aspects of transport planning, in addition to environmental assessments and analysis. Against my own expectations, I found myself enjoying the engineering and air quality courses most.

To fulfil the requirements of the Air Quality course, I had to analyse data collected by Leeds City Council about NO2 and NOx levels in Headingley, as well as data collected by the University’s own air quality stations. The data had to be analysed against background levels and then evaluated in regard to urban canyons and wind direction and speed in a report to meet some of my coursework requirements.

The final requirement of the Masters was the dissertation, which I wrote based on a placement that I was able to undertake at Nuremberg Airport, where I analysed the surface access behaviour of low cost carrier passengers against the surface access behaviour of full service airline passengers to point out the impact of low cost carrier passengers’ surface access on CO2 emissions.

The transition from student (who benefited from an industry placement) to consultant was quite straight forward. When I arrived there was work I could get stuck into straight away. In my first few weeks I have been involved in developing a parking strategy for the City of York and a business strategy based on economic evidence for improvements to the East Coast Mainline.

Studying for exams and gaining knowledge by researching and writing coursework is one thing; however being able to apply those skills and actually using ‘real data’ and doing ‘real research’ is a totally different story, especially when the outcome has to meet your client’s requirements and not just yourself and your module leader. No one taught us how to collect data when the data doesn’t exist! For one of my first jobs needed to collect data on economic evidence of the LEPs adjacent to the East Coast Mainline, which was hard enough since not all LEPs provided documents or data. But then, how should I quantify a statement that simply notes ‘our major economy sectors are manufacturing and tourism’, especially from a spatial point of view?! Under the lead of my colleagues Martin Revill and James Jackson (also formerly of Leeds ITS, I found a way of creating some economic quantification on the data I have collected by linking it to the NUTS3 GVA data provided by the ONS.

I feel that the work I am doing is helping the projects move forward, which is different to being a student. Writing coursework is a very lonely and unrewarding job, whereas now, my work is not only being appreciated but actually used to make the whole project successful and to please the client. When I work in a team at JMP I am working with colleagues that have a much broader range of skills, knowledge and expertise to the groups I have studied in at ITS and as a result this makes project work more interesting.

I haven’t been working at JMP for very long, but so far I have learned a great deal about working in a team with different academic backgrounds and skills. From this experience I have learned how to apply the knowledge and adopt new skills when needed. The Leeds office has welcomed me very warmly and contributed immensely to this process.