Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

Life after graduating 

I am currently a Senior Transport Planner at Mott MacDonald, based in Leeds. Since joining Motts in 2019 I have begun specialising in business case development and appraisal for transport schemes, with a focus on sustainable transport throughout the UK. I have supported funding bids of varying sizes, with the ambition of supporting the national agenda around Net Zero and transport decarbonisation. 

I have recently gained national recognition, being named as the CIHT Young Professional of the year, for my work in developing the West Yorkshire Carbon Assessment Toolkit. As the transport technical lead, I defined a robust and consistent methodology to assess embodied and operational carbon, and develop sustainable infrastructure at an individual project level. This work has broadened my career opportunities, not only developing this work further, but attending and speaking at conferences to highlight the importance of transport decarbonisation in order to support Net Zero ambitions.

Many skills are developed through anyone’s time at ITS, both academic and social. As someone who has now come through their formative years within the profession and now specialising in disciplines that are of interest, I can honestly say that my experiences at ITS have been invaluable. The obvious takeaway from ITS is that of academic knowledge and understanding of the core principals needed to succeed in the industry. Something that is often overlooked by prospective students is the ability to build personal and professional networks at ITS, as well as frequently engaging with industry leaders as part of seminars and guest lectures. 

Even though I’m now a few years into my professional journey I still come across, and even directly work with my classmates from ITS. The frequent connections and common experiences shared with ITS classmates, and those from other year groups, means that any ITS graduate enters the industry well connected and instantly recognisable (even if you don’t initially realise this), given the prestige of the Institute within the UK and well beyond.

Transport studies at Leeds

I chose ITS due to its high standard of education, the connections with industry and the high employability upon completion of the course – the combination of these is not to be understated.

Mark Harrison

I chose ITS due to its high standard of education, the connections with industry and the high employability upon completion of the course – the combination of these is not to be understated, with the leading global companies looking to ITS for their future employees. On top of ITS’ high standards, I asked a number of senior people within AECOM (where I was on placement at the time) where was best to study a Transport Planning MSc – it may be biased as I was based in Leeds, but no one mentioned anywhere other than ITS!

As a student I actually didn’t attend the Employer Visits as I’d already lined up to continue working after my initial placement prior to starting at ITS. However, I have subsequently attended the Employer Visits from ‘the other side’ and can really see how valuable the events are. Obviously, it’s an opportunity to look for jobs and work, but it’s also a great space to meet industry professionals (often ITS alumni) and ask questions specific to certain roles and companies. Something I’ve realised is that different organisations offer different experiences, that often don’t suit everyone. The ITS Employer Visits give students the opportunity to talk to those at many different organisations so you can learn where might be best for you to succeed in your career.

Career highlight

Without a doubt, the highlight of my career so far has been developing the West Yorkshire Carbon Assessment Toolkit and subsequently being named the CIHT Young Professional of the year. The award itself is prestigious and the opportunities that have come since are truly unparalleled. I’ve been given the opportunity to attend and speak at conferences that attract thousands of delegates, promoting my work (which I hope to continue to develop with the support of Mott MacDonald) and sustainable transport, as well as being given a position on the CIHT council. 

While working on the Carbon Assessment Toolkit has opened many doors, more than anything it has highlighted to me the importance of decarbonisation in transport and has offered a steep learning curve in this fast paced and exciting strand within the transport industry.  

Advice from a Leeds alumnus

My advice to students interested in this course and a career in transport is that it was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life being at the University of Leeds for a year, offering me further insights into the industry as well as providing a great social life. It’s also key to make the point that finance shouldn’t be a reason not to study at ITS as there are a number of ways to gain funding support and even scholarships (I was lucky enough to be supported by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund). If you do have questions about ITS or the wider industry, always ask questions – I’m on LinkedIn should you want to ask anything.

Find out more about studying Transport Planning MSc.