Role: Principal Consultant
Career Area: Research, Modelling and Analysis
My role at SYSTRA
In my role at SYSTRA I contribute to the growth of our data science offering by helping to establish a data science team with a mixed range of skillsets.
I then use my transport expertise to apply these skills effectively!
Every day is varied and tasks can range from helping visualise data to advising on data strategy.
My career journey
Following completion of a Physics degree I went straight into the transport industry, spending 7 years at Transport for London. I didn’t want to go into research after university but I wanted to apply my analytical mind to solve problems that have societal value – so I started with transport modelling and analytics.
I then moved across multiple roles and sectors including station modelling, cycle infrastructure delivery, GIS and bus operations. If it’s transport in a city, I’ve probably covered it. During this time I undertook a masters in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics, which took me down path of focusing on data-driven transport decisions, which I find myself working on today. I took the step to work at SYSTRA in order to help bolster their data expertise, and to get involved in exciting projects both in the UK and globally.
We asked Jordan…
When did you realise this was the career path for you?
There hasn’t been a moment so to speak, it has been an interest that has developed from a young age, even if I didn’t choose an educational path that obviously fits the roles I’ve had. I have always had an interest in the way cities work, in particular transport, and enjoy solving problems – so it came as no surprise to me (and those who know me well) that I chose to take this career path!
Have you got any words of wisdom for someone starting out in a similar role?
Don’t be afraid to do things differently and bring those ideas to the table. Data and technology in transport (and in just about every other field) is changing fast, and it can be difficult for everyone to keep up. Show initiative in finding new ways of working, new data and approaches, and show how they can work for the better. If you’re particularly interested in transport or cities, then get experience in multiple teams and projects if you can. Don’t silo yourself.
How does SYSTRA stand out from the rest as a Great Place to Work?
I’m able to engage with people across all levels of seniority across the business quite frequently. A flatter, more agile structure means many minds, insights and views get together often. The breadth of work that I get involved in, even outside the transport sector, also promises exciting new opportunities.
With such power in diversity, what unique perspective do you bring to the table?
Taking a holistic approach to data-driven transport decisions, and being able to apply data techniques to the transport world whilst understanding the requirements of our clients and how we can add value. Having worked within a transport authority from the beginning of my career, I have an appreciation of how they operate and the limitations and restrictions they sometimes face, so I am always looking to make their lives easier and serve their population well.
Where is the place that has inspired you the most?
I enjoy visiting cities across the globe and when I do, I am interested in the decisions they have made around connectivity, transport and public space provision. These international examples continually inspire my work, making me wonder how they may be able to help solve our own cities’ problems.
What does true sustainability really mean to you?
Living within our means and appreciating that resources are finite – they need to be shared with generations to come. We must also understand that little actions have a butterfly effect. Although the task of moving to a more sustainable way of living seems daunting, small positive changes to the way we live will have cumulative impacts.
What would a green future look like?
We need a complete rethink of how we plan housing, services and transport in our population centres that allow people to get what they need within a sustainable distance. There is a lot we need to undo from car-centric planning which has been undertaken over the past century or so. Data, technology and new evolving AI techniques can help us do what appears at first glance to be an impossible task.
The move to electric vehicles should be seen as a path to a greener future but not a measure of success. There is still the associated congestion, road safety issues and material resources needed for a car, even if it is electric. People should be able to walk, cycle and take zero emission to where they need to be and hopefully, given my desire to travel, eventually that could mean zero emission air travel too!
How do you look after your wellbeing outside of work?
Day to day I find time to exercise as part of my mental wellbeing. It’s something I’ve done for over a decade – taking time out to go to the gym, do a class or go for a walk without my phone as distraction. I also enjoy travelling and any annual leave I take will usually end up with me in a different corner of the world.
If you could spend your lunchbreak with someone you really admire, who would you choose?
Le Corbusier. I have an admiration for his approach to design and some of the buildings he worked on such as the United Nations HQ, and those in the city of Chandigarh in India. I’d love to hear the inner workings of his brain, and what he thinks of the way we have designed our urban areas compared to his visions in the early 20th century.
If you had to pick, which mode of transport would you use for the rest of your life?
Trams. I know they’re limited to their rails, but they are smooth, green and as a Mancunian, they invoke good childhood memories.