A Day in the Life of Lynsey Michelle-Turner of AECOM

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. Read on to learn more about Lynsey Michelle-Turner of AECOM. In our 2020 ITS (UK) Essay Awards, Lynsey scooped the prize for the best Essay within the Apprentice category. Her essay imagined her retiring from a future where, due to more home working, there was a nationwide restructure of the existing transport network. Discover more about her background and how she got started within AECOM, what her current priorities are, what she enjoys about her role and the advice she offers to those looking to start a career in the industry.

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

When I was seven years old, I was stood in the lunch line at school when I had what was to be my first seizure, this soon became a daily occurrence and later that year I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Leaving school at 14 with no GCSEs due to the lack of awareness at the time, led me to starting my education later in life first working as a CAD and Revit technician in educational furniture, followed by a work placement at a highway consultancy which ultimately led to me being offered two Apprenticeships one private and the other public.

My decision to follow the route into transport planning with AECOM was initially a blind choice based on the pros and cons of working for a private consultancy however, in hindsight due to being medically exempt from driving I have always advocated for the improvement to sustainable modes of transport and the return of safer streets but also connectivity further afield (selfishly) for those of us who are public transport reliant through no choice of our own.

What is your current role?

Transport Planning Technician

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?

My working day can differ depending which project I happen to be working on, the type of work itself can vary between using ArcGIS and Saturn for analysing bus routes, road junctions and scheme areas for modelling purposes to working on communication and landownership records for stakeholder reference.

Is there anything specific that motivates you through the day?

I am motivated by the fact that I really enjoy having job and I’m fortunate to be one of the lucky ones whose has a job they love no matter what route had to be taken.

But unfortunately, my main motivation comes from two negative responses that were said to me: a response to me wanting to make my way into the civils industry was “why? you’re female, of child baring age, epileptic and can’t drive, I wouldn’t employ you” and from my unemployment coach I was asked “are you aware you’re unemployable” I use those words as fuel to carry on when I am at my worst or doubting myself.

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

I have really taken to using and continuing to learn about ArcGIS as I once had a taste for working with AutoCAD and Revit, which both have similar commands that once learnt are never forgotten. However, working in transport planning can bring a lot of different work including tasks that some would see a mundane and repetitive, such as manually filtering data, sorting land information, or analysing bus routes, these are some of the tasks I enjoy the most in my role as I find once I get momentum going there’s no stopping until I’ve reached completion.

One of my biggest struggles has been the written word, this is due to the part of my brain that my epilepsy stems from. Both AECOM and Leeds College of Building have helped create a work around for me to complete work, I still generally avoid the report writing side of things at all costs. And while colleagues were always on hand to give feedback, they have also encouraged me to submit written entries for various nominations, my biggest success to date being winning the ITS(UK) Apprentice Essay Award 2020. However, this is always going to be my personal Achilles heel.

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

Just go for it, it’s never too late and this type of role has so many aspects to it that no two people have the exact same role.

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

Being exempt from driving I never really took note of the roads, but I wish I had known more about the network, sign meanings, road types etc. as coming into the role oblivious to such things gave me the extra task of learning the highways. Although it does give me an amusing story and memorable learning curve behind the first junction that I coded, which I had to redo due to effectively going the wrong way round the roundabout.