Ariel picture

Ariel Jorre de St Jorre

Ariel completed her MSc in Transport Planning at the Institute of Transport Studies during the 2018/19 Academic year. She completed a BSc in Urban Planning at the University of Quebec in Montreal prior to attending Leeds and was lucky to have a number of excellent professors in Montreal who encouraged her to apply to ITS as it was the place to go when looking to pursue a career in transport. ITS helped get her first job as Graduate Transport Planner at Atkins and her current job as a Strategic Development Manager at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

When she first started at Atkins, courses such as Principles of Transport Modelling, Transport Data Collection and Analysis and Sustainable Spatial Planning and Analysis really helped her to understand the purpose behind project work and the context of a project especially when assigned tasks that very much resembled ITS course works. Her favourite course, Understanding Travel Behaviour, provided essential context on transport planning and the impacts transport planning has on shaping communities and societies for years to come. 

The majority of her time at Atkins was spent working with multidisciplinary teams on Funding and Financing applications and Stakeholder Engagement. Notable projects include the development of three Town Investment Plans (TIPs) and Stakeholder Engagement for largescale infrastructure projects, such as the Transpennine Route Upgrade and the M5 Junction 10 improvements scheme. These projects brought together a wide range of specialists such as Engineers, Ecologists, Town Planners, Transport Planners, Conservationists, etc. to design the scheme, set up a consents strategy, and undertake heritage and environment assessments amongst other things.

Ariel then joined TfGM in 2021 and has been working on the development of Greater Manchester’s pilot Tram-Train scheme since then. ITS has a big emphasis on innovation which helped her be aware of the wider context of transport around the world and different types of innovation. Thanks to an outing that was organised by ITS to Sheffield during her MSc, Ariel was already aware of Tram-Train technology and the UK pilot in Sheffield. 

Working in cross-disciplinary teams is something Ariel enjoys as you are constantly learning about aspects of projects – although the transport planning aspects remains her favourite part, of course! Career highlights for Ariel so far include the successful delivery of the three Town Investment Plans (TIPs) totaling more than £80m of funding to benefit to the towns. Ariel went into transport because she wanted to have a career that positively impacted the lives of others. Knowing that a town of deserving people were being awarded this money to develop a set of projects aimed at community wellbeing, active transport, social equality, and achieving net zero objectives was very rewarding. Eventually transitioning from the private to the public sector proved challenging at first, but she is enjoying working on an innovative project that will provide transformational change to the city region.

Ariel’s advice to students completing their Masters at the Institute for Transport Studies is to :

·       Engage with the career support that ITS provides. The career advice offered by ITS such as the CV workshops and Employers Visits proved more valuable than advice received from the University. Overall, ITS is very supportive and helps you understand what your career options are a well as encouraging you to apply to a range of different organisations and positions. It’s important to do both online applications and the Employer Visits. The interviews at ITS can be a good opportunity to be asked to attend a GAC or get another interview and. The setting is also less formal and less stressful than a GAC and it’s a good opportunity to have a discussion and create a back and forth.

·       Help and work together with your classmates. It may seem like your peers are your competition but working together makes for more successful outcomes for everyone. Ariel and her classmates often worked together to help each other prepare for interviews. If one classmate had been to a GAC for a company and another was going, they would share tips and some even got jobs through the recommendation of their peers at ITS – if you do well in an interview, recruiters can get in touch with you to suggest candidates for other positions, etc.

·       Don’t be afraid to express your passion for the field. If you have a specific interest, it is worth trying to pursue it and if you want to get into a role, or find project work that interests you, enthusiasm and knowledge for a specific field can help you get there. If you have relevant work experience that you really enjoyed, make sure you mention it. If that work experience was abroad, it is important to explain details like how prestigious your university was, how prestigious your placement was or how you had to deal with a situation differently than you would in the UK –  such as statutory, procedural, or cultural differences. This shows you are experienced, adaptable, and aware of the British context and how it differs from your past experiences. It also showcases skills and knowledge that people in the UK may not have making you more unique and valuable to a team.

·       Keep in touch and capitalise on the ITS alumni network. Once you are working it is so valuable to have a good external network that your colleagues may not. ITS offers you that on a silver platter and having a good network is a good asset in the workforce. If you stay to work in the UK, a number of your colleagues, managers and directors will also be ITS alumni and it’s something that can help you connect with people in and outside your organisation.

The course at ITS was a life-changing experience for Ariel. It opened doors, created connections and helped her succeed in the workplace. Most importantly, it fostered her passion for transport and provided her with the knowledge and tools needed to confidently pursue a career in transport and shape a brighter future for generations to come.