Role: Director (Net Zero Transport)
Career Area: Environment and Sustainability
My role at SYSTRA
My role as Director for Net Zero Transport involves a mixture of delivering projects in the transport decarbonisation space, and developing SYSTRA’s business in the transport decarbonisation market.
Transport decarbonisation interacts with all areas of SYSTRA’s business activities, and as such I work across teams to contribute to projects and opportunities focused on net zero transport, with a core focus on Transport Planning and on developing strategies and pathways for transport decarbonisation.
My day-to-day role involves contributing to project delivery, business development, developing proposals and client engagement. My projects typically involve a combination of quantitative and qualitative research and analysis; strategy planning and development; policy development and analysis; project and programme management; stakeholder engagement; and market research and analysis.
My career journey
My involvement and interest in the transport decarbonisation market began with my PhD research, which was funded by a pan-European project focused on facilitating the deployment of electric vehicles throughout Europe, and developing a policy framework for electric vehicles within Europe. Following my research, I joined Transport for London where I was lucky enough to continue in the same field (often a rarity for PhD research!), focusing on deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure throughout London.
I then joined the world of consultancy where I broadened out into wider transport decarbonisation, contributing to projects for other transport modes and other alternative fuel types, whilst maintaining strong skills in electrification of transport. I joined SYSTRA in 2023 following stints in two other consultancies, leveraging an opportunity to join an organisation with significant and reputable expertise in the transport market and an extensive existing portfolio of projects in the transport decarbonisation space.
We asked Peter…
When did you realise this was the career path for you?
My career path is a combination of personal interests and timing. I was always interested in engineering due to a numbers-focused and analytical mindset (likely helped by a childhood obsession with Lego). Having studied Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, I was faced with a choice after my undergraduate on which strand of engineering to focus on. I ultimately decided I was most interested in environmental engineering due to the positive societal impacts associated with working within this field.
Shortly after completing my undergraduate degree, I was offered a postgraduate research role within the electric vehicle market. I accepted the position as it aligned very well with my career objectives. My interest and enthusiasm for the market has only grown since then, and it has been fascinating to see the market expand since its early stages.
Have you got any words of wisdom for someone starting out in a similar role?
In the context of the transport decarbonisation market, I would suggest being proactive in your curiosity. There are many different facets to explore to decarbonise the transport sector, and it is a dynamic and fast-paced industry for many different reasons (be they political, technological or societal, amongst many others). Exploring different elements of the market can pique your interest in different ways and subsequently open you up to new opportunities.
How does SYSTRA stand out from the rest as a Great Place to Work?
The breadth of work covered by SYSTRA’s projects, and the interaction between different business and market areas, make it a dynamic and rewarding place to work with excellent and highly skilled colleagues to work alongside every step of the way.
Additionally, working in the transport decarbonisation space within SYSTRA is very satisfying, knowing that each project we undertake is contributing in some way to the ultimate decarbonisation of the transport sector.
With such power in diversity, what unique perspective do you bring to the table?
I began my career working in academia, followed by moving into the public sector within Transport for London and then the private sector within consultancy. As such, I have gained a unique understanding of the net zero and sustainable transport landscape, understanding the pressures, priorities, nuances and inner workings of each of these sectors.
Additionally, I have been involved in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure from a time when there were only two electric vehicles and three charge points deployed (maybe an exaggeration…!), so it has been fascinating to see how the market has evolved from this early stage, and to be involved in developments which are facilitating the market’s growth.
Where is the place that has inspired you the most?
It seems strange to say London considering I lived there for seven years, but I have always found the city fascinating in terms of how it fits together and how people get around, which never gets old. Aside from London, I’ve always found Barcelona very inspiring from an urban planning perspective.
What does true sustainability really mean to you?
True sustainability means factoring sustainability into everything we do. Even within the concept of “sustainable transport”, I am an advocate for not separating the “sustainable” from the “transport” – rather we should be ensuring that all transport has sustainability at its core. The same concept applies to all aspects of society, with everyone playing their part, no matter how small a role.
What would a green future look like?
A green future means achieving our net zero ambitions, but doing so in an equitable and fair way that leaves nobody behind, in the context of a ‘just transition’. The move to net zero has the potential to unfairly disadvantage those most impacted by the transition, and as such, all policies and schemes should be designed with a focus on equity, with the ultimate aim of contributing to a truly green future.
How do you look after your wellbeing outside of work?
I am a big fitness fan, with strength training typically being my go-to. I also enjoy going for walks to take a break, and I’m frequently trying to get my 10,000 steps in (with the Move app making this a bit obsessive!). I also enjoy spending time with my partner, friends and family, and I always try to travel as much as possible to explore new cities.
If you could spend your lunchbreak with someone you really admire, who would you choose?
Yotam Ottolenghi, mainly because it’s sure to be a delicious lunch!
If you had to pick, which mode of transport would you use for the rest of your life?
Following my move back to Dublin, I have tried to prioritise cycling as my choice mode of transport due to its efficiency and health benefits, and also the increasingly good cycling infrastructure in Dublin – though the weather in Ireland means it’s not always the most pleasant mode of transport to choose. So in that respect, I would say cycling when it’s sunny, and using rail when it’s hammering down with rain!