Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)



Country: New Zealand

Name: Courtney Groundwater

Company: Abley Transportation Consultants Ltd

Position: Senior Transportation Engineer

ITS Course: MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering, 2013

Currently I’m a Senior Transportation Engineer at a boutique transportation consultancy in New Zealand.  This means that I have project management responsibilities for small – medium sized projects but sit on the technical side of the fence in terms of where the bulk of my time is spent.

I actually worked for Abley before I left to study at ITS.  Returning from ITS allowed me to step into a more senior role and my chosen dissertation topic (Valuing  Citywide Walking and Cycling) set me up to be the business cases and funding leader within my company.  This has led to me specialising within transport – although the industry in New Zealand is very small so there are no real specialists!

I specifically chose ITS because it has a good reputation within New Zealand and was recommended to me by my more senior colleagues.  Compared to the smaller transport masters courses in New Zealand, ITS offered a much broader range of courses and many specialists in the field.

I didn’t realise before starting how much I would get out of the international nature of the class.  We all approached transport problems from completely different aspects which was really enlightening.

I found that the courses I enjoyed the most/got the most out of were the ones that I didn’t initially think were relevant to me and my career path.  Really, you don’t know what you don’t know.  So take the opportunity to try a slightly different subject and see how it goes. I had already worked in transport before attending ITS.  I found that this course was a great way to build on my base knowledge and really got a lot out of it.  However, the first semester does start from the real basics, so it doesn’t matter if you have no background in the field.

The highlight to my career so far has probably been the opportunity to work in transport at a time when the focus on providing only for car travel in New Zealand is shifting.  I’m currently involved in a lot of projects related to the Urban Cycleways Programme.  The programme centres on an additional source of funding that has been made available to road controlling authorities in New Zealand to assist with providing improved cycle infrastructure.

My advice to ITS international students who are seeking work in the transport sector is that ITS was a great way to make contacts around the world.  Now, a couple of years on from completing my course I have used my contacts to meet people within the industry internationally.  I often come across people in my day to day working life that have also studied at ITS.  This includes clients and colleagues all currently working/living in New Zealand.  So my advice is definitely use the contacts you make during your time at ITS – you never know when these will come in handy.