I graduated from the University of Glasgow with an honours degree in Accountancy. It was a well rounded degree covering many different subjects that have stood me in good stead since, even for a career in transport planning.
With the degree in the bag I began working for one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms. I audited the financial statements of numerous large companies, completed my professional qualifications, slowly moved up the corporate ladder, and started to feel like my career was mapped out for me.
At this point, in a moment of clarity, I made the bold decision to switch careers. After four years at university and another three tough years in the workplace, I finally acknowledged what I’d known all along; this accountancy lark wasn’t for me. The question at this point was what job would? Where would I discover the elusive ‘ideal job’ if it even existed?
The next step
After seven months teaching and travelling in South East Asia and with the help of some good luck, sheer chance, and a splattering of coincidence, I found myself one huge step closer to finding the ‘ideal job’ when I moved to Birmingham and began working for JMP as an Assistant Transport Planner.
To be perfectly honest I had never even heard of Transport Planning let alone considered it as a viable career option. I had never visited Birmingham, or even the West Midlands, and I had certainly not imagined that I would be involved in assessing and informing transport issues in the region. I could never have pictured myself in the job I have now. But with three years experience in the field and the superb support and guidance of JMP, I am now confident in my role and, more importantly, extremely motivated, enthused and happy in my career.
Initially I assisted the team in providing development control services to the Highways Agency and to private clients. I assessed and produced transport assessments focusing on the transport issues resulting from proposed developments. I learned to use junction assessment software to assess traffic impact on strategic and local highway networks and got involved in site visits and traffic counts.
The work I was involved in was varied from the outset and the learning curve was relatively steep, but the people and environment at JMP made it a truly enjoyable experience that really sped up my learning.
Throughout my second year I gained experience in new aspects of the traffic and transportation services that JMP offers its clients, one of which was transport modelling. I was given the opportunity to attend an external training course that focused on the transport modelling micro-simulation software VISSIM. This software is used to visually replicate conditions at a junction or on a larger network.
It can be used to test potential junction improvement schemes, assess network performances in the future, and can be used to build a 3D representation of the study area. In essence, it’s like creating a computer game that you can use to record useful traffic data in order to inform decisions.
I found that I particularly enjoyed this area of work and was quickly accepted as part of the growing transport modelling team. Since joining this team I have worked on many large projects and have had the opportunity to provide my assistance to other organisations while on secondments. I have continued to grow in confidence and have been given opportunities to expand my skills into new areas and using different modelling packages such as PARAMICS and SATURN. I have found that I really thrive on this work and love the challenges that are involved.
I still maintain an involvement in the other aspects that I initially experienced and continue to get a very varied workload. My learning curve remains steep and is assisted by internal training courses and regular lunchtime seminars conducted by other JMP staff members willing to share their knowledge and interests with the rest of us. I was promoted to Transport Planner and am now gaining new experiences in areas such as project management and in the training of others.
What is it like working at JMP?
At JMP the working environment is superb, the people are friendly and there really is a feeling of unity amongst the staff. We all work as one team, sharing our knowledge and expertise, and providing each other with support and assistance. The large number of services that JMP offers has allowed me to experience a variety of work and the training opportunities have assisted my professional development.
There is also a great training scheme to assist in achieving chartered status with one of the professional bodies.
I really have found a home in transport planning and would recommend it as a very credible career option, regardless of degree or experience. The idea of an ‘ideal job’ may not seem like a realistic goal, but JMP has done its best to provide me with something that comes very close to it!