A Day in the Life of Jason Loader of 4way

In this series, we aim to feature a particular individual ITS UK Member who will talk through what they do for their company and detail their daily work schedule, whilst also offering some advice and reflection on their career thus far.

Tell us about yourself, your background and how you got started in the industry?  What brought you to 4way and led you to make this career choice?

I’ve always been interested in understanding how things work. Science was my go-to subject at school, which led to completing my PhD in Chemistry. The best parts of my studies centred around theoretical chemistry, computational modelling, and analytics – working out why things were the way they were and how they might be improved. After my PhD I wanted to teach, and so also completed a PGCE. However, this was not the career I had envisaged. I was looking to do something new, that utilised the soft skills and data science interests from my studies, when I interviewed with 4way. They were looking for a consultancy role capable of disseminating information while bridging the communication gap between technical specialists and non-technical stakeholders across a variety of projects. I didn’t know much about the world of transport and ITS when I started at 4way, but over time my drive to learn and understand how things work has led me to Principal Consultant and Future Mobility Discipline Lead.

What is your current role?

Future Mobility Discipline Lead.

Take us through a typical day and what that involves. What projects are you working on (dependent on what you can share of course)? What are your current priorities?

The industry is rapidly transitioning to a more data driven future, with greater reliance on digital services and cloud operations. At the same time, there’s a significant drive towards decarbonisation, multi-modal and active travel, connected vehicles, naked roads, and many others! All these stands feed into Future Mobility, and as the 4way Discipline Lead, my role involves researching new developments across the board and to consider how they can be applied to support our clients’ project requirements. For example, 4way recently partnered with a data provider to enable the remote monitoring of roads with no or low provisions of roadside infrastructure. The strategy uses Floating Vehicle Data – where journey time and speed data comes directly from vehicles. With Floating Vehicle Data, we’re able to monitor a significantly greater number and length of roads, while also eliminate road worker risk from the installation, maintenance, and decommissioning of temporary roadside devices used in traditional monitoring strategies.

Is there anything specific that motivates you through the day?

I love to solve problems, whether qualitative (logic problems and considering the art-of-the-possible) or quantitative (data science and cross-interrogation of multiple datasets). It’s always satisfying to find a solution to a problem. But I equally enjoy being challenged by others’ alternative solutions and learning from them – such discussions and collaboration are essential to all parts of my work.

What do you most enjoy about your role and what do you find the most challenging?

As much as I appreciate a good spreadsheet, ultimately it’s the variety of the projects I work on and the people I meet and work with along the way that keep me coming back to work. The industry is also undergoing continuous rapid change – this is both enjoyable when you’re feeling on top of things and quite challenging otherwise! Once again, having a great support network of colleagues and friends is invaluable during such times.

What advice would you give someone who is considering seeking a career in this role and within this industry?

Seek experience and knowledge and be inquisitive and participative across all the different specialisms within the industry. Use each opportunity to develop your knowledge base and skillset, which are often transferrable across unrelated projects. Also use each opportunity to help refine which specific area(s) you might want to specialise in and be vocal about pursuing that career direction.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out your career?

Build a list of acronyms and abbreviations – there are SO many!