Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson

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

On leaving the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) I joined a specialist local government transport planning team serving local authorities and other public bodies in Greater Manchester. For the first 10 years I specialised in transport modelling including using SATURN for a range of projects and teaming up with ITS staff occasionally to give SATURN training courses to professionals in the UK and overseas. I moved up from a Graduate modeller to Team Leader within this time and then I took an opportunity to move to running the data collection teams within the unit for another 12 years, ultimately moving up to Group Leader running several large teams, being part of the senior management team providing a transport data collection and consultancy service to local authorities.

In 2007 I moved to data collection specialists Sky High to take a role as their first Business Development Manager and helped to grow the business in the UK and overseas, doubling turnover within 6 years through identifying and winning major contracts and developing innovative data collection techniques. The highlight of this part of my career was delivering a real time spectator monitoring project for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games using innovative Bluetooth sensing systems.

I progressed to being a Director of Sky High and in 2014 when Sky High was acquired by Tracsis my remit expanded to include other business units.

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

I am a Director of Tracsis Traffic Data Ltd, which is part of Tracsis plc. The Division I have responsibility for delivers transport data collection projects for hundreds of clients ranging from small consultancies to city regions, transport authorities and international consultancies. Other business units under my remit deal with the transport management of major events, data inputting and specialist rail passenger surveys. Our business is the largest in the UK in the field of transport data collection holding many major framework contracts, seven regional offices and employing over 160 full time staff.

My responsibilities as Divisional Business Development Director span a varied and interesting range. At the strategic level I have an input into key decisions about the strategic direction of the business relating to new technologies, client base, geographical coverage, contractual opportunities, resourcing and mergers and acquisitions. I have managerial responsibility for teams leading business development, major bids and innovation and development aspects of the business. I sit on various senior management boards and liaise on business development topics with other parts of the Tracsis Group which deal primarily with the rail software and consultancy markets.

On a day to day basis my work takes me all over the British Isles and occasionally overseas. I am a Project Director for several major transport data projects, so regularly interact with clients, technology suppliers and partners and have an important role as mentor and trainer for more junior staff in the business. I am also involved in helping to deliver training courses in transport data to transport professionals and regularly participate in conferences and seminars.

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

The MSc gave me a superb understanding of the many facets of transport planning and engineering which I have had cause to call on time and again through my career. It has helped me talk with knowledge and confidence to clients and colleagues who work in other specialist areas of the profession and has provided me with a qualification which has respect the world over.

Looking back, why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

The MSc perfectly complemented my chosen specialisms of transport planning in my undergraduate Geography degree and provided a natural continuation. My tutor on the BSc course was an ITS alumni himself and recommended I consider the course.

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

The knowledge and status of the staff was/is world-leading. Being under the guidance of the likes of Tony May and Dirck Van Vliet was a true inspiration. The mix of other students on the course in terms of backgrounds and nationalities was also a major positive element.

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

No one activity in particular –simply enjoyed the variety of social and sporting opportunities offered by Leeds as a city. I did spend an evening a week helping a fellow student from Japan understand his course notes and learn about each other’s cultures. This friendship still continues today.

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

Transport planning is now entering a very exciting time with the advent of new data sources, autonomous vehicles, a shift in focus to healthy travel and changes in our political and environmental climates. ITS will give you an equalled opportunity to enter this exciting world and a platform for a lifelong career in the profession.