Image of Institute for Transport Studies alumni Khairul Zaim Zakariah

Khairul Zaim Zakariah

I am currently working with OPUS International (M) Berhad, a subsidiary company of OPUS Group Berhad which is recognized as one of the world's leading multinational consultants and preferred partner in Asset Development and Asset Management of infrastructure and the built environment. OPUS team has a global reach over 65 offices in Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada. My role in OPUS is as a Project Co-ordinator assisting the Project Director for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Extension Project in Kiang Valley in Malaysia. OPUS International (M) Berhad play the role as a Project Management Consultant for this project on behalf of the client, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad. Basically, we are managing design consultants and contractors to ensure the project can be completed with less interference within an acceptable time frame. We also advise our client in contracts, designs and construction issues to protect stakeholders for this project. As a Project Co-ordinator who is reporting directly to Project Director, I was given a task to coordinate the project and support the Project Director, which involves high level meetings with government agencies including ministers and member of parliaments, managing the project, managing company's direction, managing staff and so forth.

For me, getting the job and sustaining the job are two completely different things. The Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) have provided me with a unique platform and adequate knowledge and experience to compete in the very challenging job market. As a post-graduate student who graduated from the best transport university in Europe, I had the advantage compared to others in securing job interviews. I received job offers ranging from government agencies, consultants and contractors after I completed my studies. The exposure in ITS also give me a broader view on things and has trained me to think creatively and outside the box. These important elements are essential for me to sustain my job and can hopefully accelerate my career growth. ITS also provided me with global exposure from having friends and lecturers across the globe, seminars, lectures, case studies, study trips and etc. Each of them has given me vital exposure to progress in my career.

I got my Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering in one of Malaysia’s top universities. As a Civil Engineer, we had a few breakdowns in civil engineering branch such as structure, environment, transportation, geotechnical, infrastructure and so forth. Malaysia is a developing country. Above all the sub-category under the broad civil engineering, in my opinion, transportation is the most dynamic and important factors to contribute to a nation's development compared to others. The UK is one of developed country who has advance approach and technology on transportation. For example, the UK celebrated 150 years of the London Underground in January 2013, while Malaysia completed its first underground metro in 1998. Mathematically, Malaysia is behind the UK in underground metros by almost 85 years! Thus, as one of the leading transportation leaders in the world, the UK is the best destination to learn from. It's an open secret that Institute of Transport Studies (ITS), University of Leeds is one of the best transport institutes in Europe. ITS have numbers of dedicated, experienced and sophisticated staff who guide you along the process.

A number of research projects conducted by ITS have got recognition across the globe especially in Europe. The best university for transport exposure is definitely University of Leeds. In terms of global network, course mates in ITS are from all over the world from the country of rising sun, Japan to the samba country, Brazil. In real life industry, engineers and planners work closely together. Both professions are inter-related.

I believed that by enrolling for the MSc (Eng) Transport Planning & Engineering I could gain beneficial advantage on essential knowledge of both professions in ITS. Moreover, with other colleagues taking Transport Economics, Sustainability in Transport and Transport Planning and Environment we shared each other’s perspectives on things related to transport. ITS is like a transport hub where you can get any information related to transport whether it's on transport economics, sustainability, planning, engineering, case studies, traffics, technology, safety or etc.

I would advise prospective students to grab the opportunity to learn and extract knowledge as much as possible from all the teaching staff and students especially coming from a developing country. I believe students can learn a lot from the UK experience in the transportation sector. There is a quote saying that, "Experience is the best teacher". As experience is something continuously accumulated along the process, information gathered is valuable. In ITS the staff have a broad experience in their respective field. They are the people who have a deep understanding in their area of expertise and specialisation. The chance to learn from these people is phenomenal. Besides that, ITS also have a fine infrastructure and a great study environment to facilitate students in their study. When you're talking about transportation knowledge experience, there's no better place than ITS.