A week in the life at Transport North East

Hi everyone,

My name is Rachelle Forsyth-Ward, and I am proud to be a woman working in the transport sector at Transport North East.

I have been with TNE since its formation in 2018, and I am the Head of Transport Policy and Strategy Development. My role involves leading the production of strategies and policies on behalf of the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), with the aim of achieving our vision of ‘Moving to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East.’ 

My team produced the region’s Transport Plan which was adopted in 2021 – an ambitious programme worth over £6bn of investment. Funding schemes across the region align with our region’s Transport Plan, so it’s wonderful to see multi-million-pound transport improvements coming from our strategic work.

I have worked in transport for my entire career. I previously worked as a Business Development Officer at Nexus, a Transport Policy Officer at Newcastle City Council and then as a Senior Specialist Transport Planner for the North East Combined Authority before joining Transport North East.

I’m particularly passionate about this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #EmbracingEquity as it is something I firmly believe in and continually reinforce as a senior member of the TNE team. At TNE women are central to our delivery and I’m proud to say that 6 out of 8 heads of department are women.

I hope that in sharing what a typical working week for me is like at Transport North East in this blog other people will be inspired to dip their toe into the transport sector and see how they could thrive in this field too.

Monday 27th February

I started my week by working from my office base of Gateshead Civic Centre.  At TNE we all work under a hybrid arrangement, meaning we can mix our week up and work partly from home and partly from the office to best suit our calendars and the needs of the business.

The first task of the day was to chair my weekly team meeting. It’s always nice to see colleagues either face to face or on Microsoft Teams and catch up with how their week went, what they got up to over the weekend, as well as go over what they’ve got coming up in the new week.

In the afternoon, I ventured to Durham.  I was lucky enough to be invited to give a guest lecture to students in their second year at Durham University’s Business School. I introduced what we do at Transport North East, our recent achievements by way of strategy production and some of the major transport investments we’ve recently secured.

It was a brilliant opportunity to share some of the highlights of our collective work and speak with likeminded students who share our vision for transport in the region.

Tuesday 28th February

The day began with a Myers Brigs Type Indicator training session with other members of the management team to identify my personality type and better understand how I make decisions and interact with people both inside and outside of work.  The session was really informative, and I left feeling more aware of my personal strengths and the ways in which I can alter how I communicate in order to get the best out of my colleagues who have different personality types.

After the training session I checked up on the Active Travel Strategy public consultation that was in its final week (the consultation closed on Sunday 5th March). The strategy aims to ensure that over half of all short journeys in the region will be walked, wheeled or cycled by 2035 – good news for the environment, public health and the local economy.  I spoke with my colleagues who are project managing the consultation to get an update on the number of people we’d heard from online and during in person consultation events. I also checked with our comms team to see what materials were scheduled to go out this week to give the consultation a final push.

It was then time to chair the final online stakeholder event for the North East Active Travel Strategy consultation, and we covered a variety of topics that will help to inform the final version of the document that will be put to the Joint Transport Committee for endorsement in the summer.

If you look closely, you’ll spot me presenting in the top right corner.

Wednesday 1st March

Wednesday was another day working from the office this week.

After completing some admin and regular diary meetings, I attended a Road Safety Event which was organised on behalf of the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative. The event was an opportunity for those involved in the strategy and delivery of road safety initiatives across the North East to meet in person to hear from each other, discuss topical issues and share ideas about potential solutions for improving road safety across the region.

There was a variety of interesting presentations delivered during the morning, including one from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Gateshead Council which looked at parking problems in streets surrounding schools during drop off/ pick up times. I found the test they carried out to see whether a fire engine could get through the traffic and parked stationary vehicles particularly eye opening and it provided insight into the obstructions emergency vehicles face during peak travel times.

It was a really insightful event, and it was great to make some new contacts and pool ideas as to how best to improve road safety across the North East.

It was then off to the Transport Strategy Board to update them on the launch of the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Capability Fund and talk through the North East’s proposal for spending the allocation.  

The afternoon was spent working from home focusing on further developing our proposal to the LEVI Capability Fund.

Thursday 2nd March

I enjoyed a day’s flexi leave on Thursday and I spent my time off riding my horse and walking my dog 😊 Alongside flexi leave we also enjoy a generous annual leave allowance too!

Friday 3rd March

I began Friday by reviewing the second draft of Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan.

As a partner, it is vital that our messaging aligns with that of Transport for the North and that the North East’s priorities are considered, which is why it’s a key part of my role to input into the development of our stakeholders’ strategies and policies.  

On my lunch break I made sure to get some fresh air by walking my dog Riley- one of the main benefits of being able to work flexibly and from home when my diary allows!

In between meetings I reviewed some marketing materials for the Transport for the North Annual Conference on 6th March. It was important these materials were on brand and reflected TNE well given they were to be handed out to influential delegates at the event.

I also began prepping for a zero-emission vehicle event I’m attending in London next week.

I signed off around 4.30pm and started to think about how I’d be spending my well-earned weekend.

Thank you for reading about my week working as a woman in the transport sector.

If working in transport appeals to you, we are currently advertising a number of new vacancies including one in the Policy and Strategy team. You can find more information on our Careers page.

Follow us on social media to see how else we’re making International Women’s Day 2023.

#InternationalWomensDay #EmbraceEquity #WomenInTransport

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