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Stewart's EV

What does your position involve?   

My role within University of Cambridge's Sustainability Team is to coordinate the delivery of sustainable transport interventions such as Dr Bike, cycle maintenance sessions, bus discounts, access to travel information, and monitoring their impact on achieving our transport strategy goals. This also includes engagement and monitoring of our Eddington residential development.  

What is your (education/qualification) background, and how did you get here?   

I have worked in retail bakeries, HGV driving and as a crane operator at the Port of Felixstowe. Due to a hand injury, I took on the role of STD Officer (sustainable transport development) delivering their £400M port extension construction travel plan and staff behaviour change project.  This role enabled me to learn on the job and attain my Level 5 Open University Qualification in Travel Planning. I recently achieved my Association of Project Management Fundamentals qualification (APMQF), opening the gateway to starting my Association of Project Managers qualification (APMQ) this term. 

What were you doing before joining the Sustainability Team?  

I was instrumental in creating and developing a sustainable travel plan packaged for Norfolk County Council called AtoBetter. This was a new concept for securing travel plan delivery and financial assurance from housing developers within the county. Our team grew to over 6 staff with international support from our colleagues in India and Canada. My role involved negotiations with housing developers in securing travel plan funding, creating delivery packages, and monitoring their effectiveness whilst ensuring S106 planning compliance was achieved for our clients, through effective and sustainable monitoring processes. 

What are you looking forward to getting your teeth into in the coming year?  

Since I joined the university, there have been several challenges that I’ve sunk my teeth into. I am looking forward to seeing some of the hard work being delivered through the introduction of new pool bikes and the data gathered on their usage, the Voi travel at work trial moving into the delivery phase, and by Easter, completing my APM qualification exam with a merit or distinction grade.

Who is your inspirational figure (real or fictional)?

I have so many people that have influenced my life, be that the senior manager who has supported me in innovative delivery, or my Scout leaders for giving me a sound grounding and installing a great work ethic (something I still do with my Scouts today). However, every time I feel the need for inspiration, I think back to when I was able to support my grandad as he went through the latter stages of life. His calming words and years of experience in the army fire service and his general knowledge has helped me remain grounded. He also had a great lust for life and for helping others, and he also had a great sense of humour. We were sat on the prom in Bournemouth one day and I was watching him look at something, back and forth. I soon realised, at the age of 92 years old, he was watching the joggers. I said to him that he’d never be able to catch them. He replied, "I don’t need to, they come back a lot slower to get home!” Wise words indeed for those runners reading this, pace yourself; you need to get back home too!

Do you have any hobbies?  

Yes, I have a portfolio of activities that I enjoy. I still provide support to the local Scouts, be it camping, transport support or visiting and giving talks or sessions on the many life skills I’ve collected in my short 47 years on planet earth. 

I have a fishing boat and caravan which I enjoy with my partner and our Jack Russell collie, Dog Jones. Although we don’t get there very often, I am normally somewhere in the southeast of the UK supporting Cancer Research as an event assistant. This is partially voluntary and partially a paid role. I help deliver Pretty Muddy, Race for Life and the Shine night walks which raise millions each year, supporting research and treatments. Yes, that’s right they pay me to get people muddy. Oh, and manage the health and safety and welfare of the participants of the event. 

What do you think is the biggest environmental challenge?   

Behavioural changes from the top of many organisations. As a country, we spend millions on encouraging behaviour change in our employees in the UK with a bottom-up approach. However for change to really be effective there needs to be a paradigmatic shift in the institutionalised cultures within all organisations that perceive that environmental impacts can be easily bought off with financial offsetting (paying a fee to offset the bad behaviour in generating i.e. carbon emissions for flights, travel). Why has time become so important? Everything is done at the last minute and not really planned?

In the connected world where we can work almost anywhere, why would a trip that would normally be taken by a plane to save the company or person time, not be completed by train/boat and work whilst travelling? Actual behaviour change works best with guidance and policies to support change, led with leadership and commitment at the top of the organisation, not from the bottom up! Leading by example encourages and supports the adoption of change from the bottom-up across the whole organisation. 

What gets you out of bed (and into work) in the morning?   

Strangely, it is still that I can make an impact in someone’s life by sharing some hints and tips on sustainable travel or by being that person that stops and helps them when they needed some assistance. I am a person that likes to not talk about the job, but just get it done effectively and right the first time! 

What is your environment-related pet hate?   

There is still hype about micro-mobility and that we should remove all cars/vans and HGVs from the transport system, moving to a single fuel source. However, I have always considered fuel security and how this affects the resident, industry professionals and now students. For every task, there is the right form of transport and a suitable alternative to its fuel to achieve green travel. How did we manage to travel before we had the internal combustion engine? Is our world too complicated? Should we return to a simpler life without the need for mass travel to work, schools etc.?

What is your proudest professional achievement? 

Being able to represent a multinational organisation at a community event and winning Suffolk’s Greenest County Award for our travel plan delivery. We achieved our travel plan commitment within four years of commencing the role and a reduction in single occupancy vehicle trips by 20% against stiff competition from BT at Adastral Park. This is something that the Travel Coordinator from BT is still not happy about, but he won it the year after!

What is your favourite green gadget?   

My favourite green gadget was my first Electric Vehicle. In 2012 (10 yrs ago) I leased my first electric car. Similar to the Estate Management pool car (image) I soon had the bug and got a Nissan Leaf. The vehicle was cutting edge at the time and had great gadgets and toys. Unfortunately a change in employment and charging infrastructure in rural Norfolk has seen me revert to a fuel powered vehicle. I look forward with hope to returning to an electric car shortly. 

First impressions of Cambridge? 

The University of Cambridge and the Colleges have always been prestigious places of education with a considerable reputation for delivering innovation in technology, medical and engineering science. They are akin to container ships, large in scale, complex to operate and even more challenging to keep the moving parts working together when forging a new direction for the betterment of the local environment and members of our workforce and students. Still, they are also fun to work in. 

I am honoured to have the University of Cambridge on my working profile. I hope that I can have a positive impact within the sustainability team - transport delivery, and inspire the next generation of transport professionals to come and learn with our team.