Rico Merkert

Rico Merkert

While being a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds, I undertook and received a PhD in rail transport economics. In addition to the excellent supervision and extremely international environment at ITS, I very much enjoyed the opportunities of visiting other countries as part of my PhD project (most notably VTI in Sweden and Hass Business School in California, US). After graduating from ITS, I have taught at various high profile institutions including Cranfield University, where I was a Lecturer in Air Transport Economics and Management and Head of the Centre for Air Transport in Remoter Regions, before joining ITLS/The University of Sydney Business School in March 2012.

As Associate Professor in Aviation Management at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) at The University of Sydney Business School, I am currently coordinating and teaching three units (Aviation Management and Logistics; International Freight Transportation; Aviation Case Studies and Simulation). My role at ITLS also includes being Deputy Director of the Graduate Program and convenor of the ITLS Leadership and Policy Seminar Series.

Most of my current projects focus on the efficient management of airlines, the management of various elements of the aviation value chain as well as benchmarking and cost-effectiveness analysis of airlines and airports. On top of that, I am still involved in research projects and papers on management and economics of railways. The techniques and the vast background on rail economics that I was able to acquire at ITS (during my PhD) are very useful in that respect but perhaps more important are the networks and the on-going collaboration that I still have with my ITS supervisors and many other colleagues and friends at ITS. Meeting them at various international conferences (e.g. every year at TRB in Washington) is not only useful for keeping those networks and the exchange of ideas alive but it also always brings back fond memories of the great time I had at the University of Leeds.

Working in an international environment (students and faculty from different cultural backgrounds but also involvement in international projects) and strong quantitative skills in transportation are two key strengths of ITS Leeds that have helped me in my previous jobs and also in my current position here at ITLS Sydney.

I chose my ITS course and Leeds University because without doubt the international reputation of ITS and the outstanding expertise of my supervisors in the area of transport economics (I think it is fair to say that Professor Chris Nash was at the time and still is one of the most well respected experts in rail economics globally) have been the main incentives for doing my PhD at ITS and Leeds University. Getting a well-funded Marie Curie Research Fellowship clearly also helped.

My advice to students interested in this course would be to try and combine your PhD project with international partners (such as ITLS), do as many taught (i.e. quantitative) courses as you can both at ITS and Leeds Business School and once you get to Leeds go and visit the many beautiful places in the Yorkshire Dales.