Under the spotlight with Laura Flitney

Laura joined Paul Basham Associates’ Oxford Office in August 2017 after graduating from the University of Southampton and has since worked her way through the company’s graduate programme. Laura is working towards progressing to an Assistant Transport Planner.

What does the role of a Graduate Transport Planner consist of?

Every day is different as a graduate transport planner as it is important to get stuck in and get as much exposure to as many schemes as possible in order to learn how to deal with overcoming challenges. In the first few weeks I spent time learning about Manual for Streets, getting to know the different types of transport reports and understanding the various types of planning application (all important foundations to transport planning but also things I didn’t know a great deal about, if anything at first!). I was also introduced to my first scheme, went on my first site visit and submitted my first Transport Statement with the assistance of my mentor. It’s safe to say I was kept busy and a month or so in I started to learn the ropes of CAD and was taught how to carry out visibility splay assessments and swept path analysis, building up to being able to design simple junctions.

Having been in my role for a year now I have seen myself gain a lot of knowledge and become independent in writing reports and using CAD. I have started attending meetings giving me an insight into how opportunities/constraints from all disciplines lead to a fixed layout as well as giving me an opportunity to meet the clients and put a face to a name.

What do you think of the graduate training programme?

I feel I have thoroughly benefited from being a part of the company’s graduate training scheme and I can honestly say I have enjoyed it too. From a standing start the graduate training programme encourages graduates to get involved from an early stage to build your knowledge through experience of projects rather than getting bogged down with theory. I find that the best way to learn is exactly this, it’s easier to overcome a challenge when you can relate it back to a previous project you’ve worked on where similar challenges were faced.

What do you do in your spare time?

A typical night after work normally consists of relaxing at home with family, enjoying a drink with friends at the pub or going to the gym. I love being outside and so I always try to make the most of it at the weekends whether I go for a walk/bike ride, meet friends living further afield or explore different areas of the UK with my partner with recent places including Cheddar Gorge and Barmouth.

Advice for new graduates wanting to join the industry?

It really is important to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask again. There is quite a lot to take on board in the first few months and you won’t be expected to remember all of it first time. Although it seems obvious, taking notes is a great thing to get into the habit of doing whether you are learning a new skill or being introduced to a new project - we’ve all been there scratching our heads trying to remember something that we wish we wrote down at the time. Although not directly related to the job I would recommend getting involved with social events. We have regular social events and getting to know colleagues both within my office and across the Southampton and Bristol Offices does help to build a strong project team when back at work.