Domingo Kauak Alaff
- Course: MSc Railway Operations, Management and Policy
- Year of graduation: 2020
- Nationality: Chilean
- Job title: Project Leader
- Company: Chilean State Railways (EFE, in Spanish)
I'm currently working at the Chilean State Railways (EFE, in Spanish), who are the state-owned rail infrastructure manager and heavy-rail operator, mostly for passenger trains. I’ve been there for the last 9 years and my current position is as a Project Leader, in charge of proposing and doing a high-level appraisal for projects in their very early stages, looking for short, medium, and long term initiatives. When I started in 2012, I did so in Operations, which also gave me an important point of view of how railways operate on a day-to-day basis, before transitioning to an area focused on planning on longer terms.
My experience at ITS helped in my job and career by mostly by having the chance to talk to Professors and different professionals in the rail industry to draw comparisons between the realities of the UK and Chile and learning from the similarities and differences. This gives you a better perspective of your own work and how the “status quo” of things on the rail industry changes from country to country
I wanted to study something on rail, which has been my field of work for more than a decade. South America does not currently have a well-established and experienced high education on the matter, so I chose to go to Europe to keep learning. The University of Leeds offered something different to a purely-engineering perspective for rail, which was more interesting to me.
My advice to students interested in this course and a career in transport is to make more use of the time that you're at ITS and the University of Leeds. Engage, ask and get involved, as it will make you learn more and feel a deeper involvement in your development, especially considering that the future can change in the blink of an eye (as it happened to us with COVID-19, completely closing some opportunities).
The ITS Employer days are a very good way to understand what the market is seeking in its future professionals and what main lines of work and projects are being developed, which helps to understand the way to go.
The highlight of my career so far has been the chance to keep learning from different experiences from around the world (especially my year in Leeds) and seeing the results of the projects that I work on.
My advice to ITS international students who are seeking work in the transport sector is to start learning the reality of the country you’re willing to apply to in terms of transport policy and projects, so that gives you perspective on what they expect, which way are they going and how they are doing it. A key point is also having constant feedback from peers and professors on how transport works and is understood as a concept, so parallels can be drawn between different realities and provide a vantage point to see what factors make those changes.