Lucila Capelli

Lucila Capelli

Currently, I am a specialist advisor for the Minister of Transportation of the Argentinean Federal Government. In my role, I am in charge of the coordination of sustainability agenda of the transportation sector: it includes active participation in the Climate Change Cabinet, definition of Transportation Action Plan of Climate Change (NDCs implementation) and adaptation agenda. Moreover, I am co-coordinating with Buenos Aires City government the implementation of the Clean Mobility Programme, which will include several pilot plans of electric, hybrid and biofuels in buses and private cars.

Before ITS, I had a social science background and I was looking to increase my knowledge in transportation. I knew that transition would be challenging and I wanted to do it with the best in the field. 

I knew ITS because it was recommended by my Argentinean tutors of Universidad de San Martín who told me about its international reputation. For these reasons, I chose ITS and an MSc programme that would provide me with strong engineering and quantitative analysis skills. 

As an early career starter, my ITS experience had helped me to lead with new challenges. Maybe the most important was in 2017 when I was representing my country at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany. I have presented the Climate Change Action Plan for the Transport sector at international events and on discussion panels. In particular, I was one of three women who debated the strategies and future challenges in transportation and climate change at the ITF (International Transport Forum) Roundtable in Bonn. I always knew that I would return back home after my studies at ITS -mainly because I had a grant which calls me back.

During my time at ITS I participated in both employers visits that ITS organized for us. I had around five different interviews with major transport consultancy companies. I had never been introduced to these kind of companies before, maybe the biggest transportation teams of the world. These interviews were a good professional opportunity that helped me to visualize my future employment roles. 

I would recommend to international students, even if they have to go back to their home countries as I did, to join employers visits as part of ITS and University of Leeds experience. They will also enrich your professional skills.

Originally, I was really afraid when I arrived in Leeds: new country, new culture and, moreover, a new field in my career at 29-years-old. I enrolled on the MSc Transport Planning and the Environment programme, an engineering-focused qualification that was far away from my political science degree or my public policy specialization. In my first week, I was thinking about changing to a more social-focused programme, I arranged an interview with my current programme director Dr James Tate. I remember I explained to him: “I didn’t use my calculation for the last ten years. I can’t do the same as engineers”. He gave me confidence saying that if they accept me to the programme was because I was ready for it, and, that at the end of the day, his more successful students were not engineers, they were the ones who study more and demonstrated problem-solving abilities. Two months later I had the best score in the environmental engineering coursework and later graduated with distinction. I started to think that maybe James was right: you can get into different transport disciplines from other different fields.

If I had to give advice to potential new students who want to join ITS, I would said the same to everyone who asked me before: ITS and University of Leeds will give you a very strong learning experience in transport, you will have to work hard, you will have to solve coursework that you may not understand at first reading. But at the end, you will feel that this 12-month learning experience has changed the way you analyse, not only transportation solutions but also public policy agenda. At the same time, you will be living in Leeds, a major UK city that has all the things an international student needs. As well as University of Leeds campus with great parks, studying facilities (clusters and libraries), student accommodations, as the most relevant. My social and professional network was enriched after ITS. We were around eighty students from all over the world that spent together one year of intense study and different activities such as the European Field Trip. After ITS, I have many new close friends: we have an active Latinamerican group that meets every year in a different country. But I have also friends from Taiwan, UK, Catalonia and China.