Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)


Claire Whitfield Alumna

Country: UK

Name: Claire Whitfield

Company: WSP

Position: Associate

ITS Course: BA Geography with Transport Planning, 2005

Having worked in the transport consultancy field since graduating from ITS in 2005, I moved to WSP (previously Parsons Brinckerhoff) in November 2012 having previously worked for Jacobs (2008 - 2012) and Grontmij (previously Carl Bro) from 2005 - 2008.

I have been fortunate enough, in my career to date, to have worked on and managed projects across a wide-range of specialisms including development planning, major schemes, business case development, sustainable transport, area-wide transport improvement schemes, large-scale public transport projects and options appraisal. My work as one of WSP’s behaviour change specialists led me to travel to the Middle East to work on a large-scale business engagement programme between 2016-2017.

In December 2014 I was awarded Transport Planning Professional (TPP) status, by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation and was amongst those profiled as part of New Civil Engineer magazine's 'Future Leaders' feature. This was followed by being named CIHT Young Professional of the Year (North East and Cumbria) in October 2015, largely on account on my work leading the Local Sustainable Transport Fund projects across the north.

These days I balance my project management, technical work and line management responsibilities with my role as WSP's Development People Lead for our North region, to which I was appointed in January 2018. The role covers eight offices from Liverpool to Glasgow and I have responsibility for over 200 members of staff, under our People cornerstone.

Outside of my WSP role I was asked, in mid-2017, to join the TPP Professional Standards Committee which oversees management and evolution of the qualification; as a huge advocate of TPP it’s such an honour to be a part of shaping its future. This role, which means that I am unable to mentor candidates, led me to set up a WSP UK-wide TPP Support Group in early-2018, looking to support those working toward the qualification.

Without the knowledge and experience I gained at ITS I would never have been able to pursue what I consider, to date, has been a very successful and rewarding career. I also made some great friends and, in such a tight knit industry, I'm constantly coming across people I met through ITS in my day-to-day job.

I chose Leeds University because I loved the city - it was also far enough from home (in Durham) that I wouldn't be tempted to disappear home to my friends every weekend and miss out on the university lifestyle, while still being close enough that I could go back and get my washing done if I got desperate. In terms of my course - I knew that I wanted to do Geography having enjoyed it through GCSE and A-Level, however I was also aware that it was a very diverse course and that at the end there would be a lot of people heading out into the job market with the same degree as me. With that in mind I decided that I wanted to specialise in something and transport sounded really interesting. It's the best decision I ever made and has truly shaped the way my life has developed since then.

My advice to potential students interested in this course is to absolutely go for it - TRY and make it to every lecture (although sometimes bed might seem like a better idea) and make the most of the incredible reputation ITS has in the industry.