Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)



Josephine Draper

Country: New Zealand

Name: Josephine Draper

Company: Abley Transportation Consultants, NZ

Position: Principal Transportation Planner

ITS Course: Transport Planning MSc, 2003

I am currently managing a small team of three traffic engineers in the Auckland Office of Abley Transportation – a medium sized company by NZ terms with around 45 staff in total but with a specific transport planning and GIS focus.  My main role is to guide and assist my team in delivering quality work.  As a specific transport planning consultant we do quite a bit of development work but also have a good reputation for delivering strategic road safety solutions and for using maps to communicate information.  I have to do quite a bit of writing to communicate messages for clients, which I enjoy.  I recently left a role in the NZ Transport Agency where for 8 years I managed the investigation stages of large (multi-million dollar) construction projects – lots of public speaking but very little writing, so it’s a good change to get back to writing again. 

The technical grounding of my ITS course has stood me in good stead particularly in the private sector work I have done. The traffic engineering course and experience doing traffic counts and design was particularly useful but I will always remember the work on the elasticities of demand – work I use to the present day.  Generally, the course covered a lot of ground and allowed me to explore my own particular interest, in pricing mechanisms for transport, which I have continued to progress in my career and have undertaken more research and presented a paper on this topic recently.  The course also forced students to present their work, which built confidence public speaking, a skill which was vital in my public sector role. 

I chose my ITS course and the University of Leeds because of one word – reputation.  Or to describe it slightly more, I wanted to fill in the gaps I was missing from my early career in transport planning and Leeds had both the breadth and reputation to fill that information void. 

My advice to students interested in this course and a career in transport is that it helps to know your interests so you can follow them, but make sure you pick courses so as to get a good grounding in vital skills such as transport modelling and traffic engineering, even if that won’t be your day job.  Those skills are important no matter what transport field you go into.  Make friends with the lecturers – they will give you skills for life (even those for which I lacked ability) but it was the camaraderie amongst the students and the great links with lecturers who were keen to talk to us that made it enjoyable. 

I had 8 years in the public sector in NZ working for the NZ Transport Agency which I enjoyed by and large though it was really hard work and draining personally to be in the public eye.  Probably my greatest achievement was getting the initial stages of the Wellington to Hutt Valley Cycleway started.  It is a complicated project, which to start with didn’t have any real profile to get funding.  I facilitated a series of focus groups, which gave us the material to the get the project underway. That was about 5 years ago and they are just starting to get the project built – so it is a slow burn! 

I think it’s worth saying that ITS has an international reputation.  Being a graduate of ITS is a good start to anyone’s career and the qualification is well respected.  Do read up on the transferability of qualifications in wherever you want to work though – as not all qualifications are recognized everywhere.