Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career?

Since finishing at Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) I have re-joined the transport planning team at in AECOMs Leeds office, following on from a successful six-month placement prior to studying my masters. Working in the industry has enabled me to utilise and further develop the skills gained from the MSc course, applying them across various workplace and project scenarios. Working for a global consultancy has enabled me to work on a range of projects, engaging with different project teams.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

I work for AECOM, one of the leading global infrastructure consultancies, offering clients in every region of the world the ability to design, build, finance and operate their most critical projects. As a graduate consultant, I have been able to shape out my own path, developing my career to incorporate my areas of interest and my specialisms. A key part of joining AECOM as a graduate is the Graduate Development Programme (GDP), which sees graduate from across the UK coming together to network and develop key commercial skillsets. To further develop my career, I have been working towards completing modules for the Transport Planning Society (TPS) Professional Development Scheme (PDS), which the course at ITS provided the foundations for.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career/will help with your future career?

From an education and career point of view, the standout experiences from ITS have to be the opportunities to meet and network with key figures from the industry in the master’s seminar series… you never know, these people could end up offering you a job or being a colleague. Further to this, the skills are taken from the course, in particular, the dissertation enhances confidence when speaking in public, both to audiences at public consultations and to individuals.

Looking back, why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of 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, 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 – no one mentioned anywhere other than ITS!

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why? Any highlights?

On top of all that has been mentioned above, the fact that people come from all continents around the world means that there is a great atmosphere within the department, with plenty of differing views and areas of concern relating to the built environment, depending on where students have come from. It is always interesting to see how different countries prioritise concerns relating to the course – but most of all it’s a great opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds (and you can get some great holiday ideas too!)

What other activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I was heavily involved in university sport which, aside from ITS’ outstanding track record, was the cherry on top when applying to the University of Leeds. I was lucky enough to be involved in elite sport at Leeds, which did mean some early morning training, but meant I was definitely awake for a 9 am lecture. 

What would you say to students thinking about studying the same course at Leeds/thinking about the same career?

It was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life being at 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.