Manuel Ojeda Cabral
- Course: MSc Transport Economics
- PhD title: Investigating the value of travel time savings
- Year of graduation: 2011/14
- Nationality: Spanish
- Job title: Research Fellow in Transport Economics & Appraisal
- Company: Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds
I have just finished a PhD here at Leeds and I'm now working as a Research Fellow in the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS). I studied my undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. At the end of the degree, my professor recommended the University of Leeds for the kind of specialisation that I wanted to do as a Masters. I enjoyed the research part so much that I decided to do my PhD here too.
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship from Leeds University Business School (LUBS), so my PhD was split between LUBS and ITS. I had the benefit of getting support from both schools, as well as more exposure to research that was very different from my own.
My research investigated the value of travel time savings, which is often a trade-off between money and time. For example, discovering how much more a person would pay to get from A to B in a shorter amount of time. The government use this when considering whether the time saved through new transport projects will be beneficial for society. Economics is not only about money.
Towards the end of my PhD the opportunity came up to collaborate on a project the Department for Transport had commissioned, which related to the value of travel time. Out of the project, I heard that ITS needed a Research Fellow in the same field for one year, and I got the job.
I really enjoyed sharing my research with others and during my PhD so I took the opportunity to present at different conferences all over the world. It was a great way to network and get good feedback and recognition. I also got the chance to teach and was able to - after initial training - run seminars on economics, microeconomics, and econometrics.
I always knew I wanted to work at a University after my PhD because they give you the highest level of opportunities to be creative, develop your own ideas, and do interesting research on new things. In my new role as Research Fellow, this year I have taken lectures for a course I really enjoy and I'm also involved in several projects within ITS; some of them are very closely related to my PhD. It's easy to get caught up in research, something that I found a lot at the beginning of my PhD. This is why I always made an effort to have a good work-life balance. Sometimes your brain needs a rest! I was part of many Leeds University Union societies too, like the opera society and the ballroom and Latin dancing society - which I still do as a member of staff. I've been at Leeds now for five years, I love it here.