President’s Address – 2021

Anita Rai PresidentFor those who do not know me, my name is Anita Rai and I have been nominated as President of the Young Transport Professionals (YTP) for the financial year 2020/2021 (FY20/21).

I’ve been involved with YTP for almost 2 years now, first as a member in 2018 and then joining the Committee last year as Communications Coordinator.

My post-university career started when I moved to Melbourne and began a job in an industry, I had no prior experience in. As many young electrical engineers, I wanted to work in renewables and save the world! However, I soon came to learn about the vibrancy of the world of transport and saw how working in this industry could fulfil my desire for a positive social and environmental impact in my career. Attending industry events that introduced me to new topics and people was instrumental in this process, especially YTP’s. Being an entity that aims to include and illuminate all facets of transport and its people, YTP covers everything from rail to road to aviation and from engineering to law to communications.

Anyone working in transport (and especially rail, like me!) knows how small the industry can feel – everyone knows everyone! Being out on site or attending a customer meeting will often involve running into someone you’ve worked with before or met at some event, and you start to notice and appreciate this tightknit community. YTP has been an excellent facilitator in growing my network and solidifying connections made, no matter what the tone of the event.

I would be remiss if I continued much further without addressing the elephant in the room that has affected each and every one of us: COVID-19.

Focussing on the transport industry: while Australia (and many other parts of the world) was locked down, reduction in traffic allowed infrastructure projects to take place uninterrupted, with governments
acknowledging the importance of investing in this area to stimulate economic recovery and create jobs.

However, this new way of living has also shaken up the industry and heightened the conversation around decentralising our cities, raising the argument between the importance of increasing mobility and increasing accessibility. Many people have also taken to utilising forms of active transport over public transport for physical and mental health reasons.

These developments in transport and in life have of course been reflected in YTP. Members know us for our events: our quarterly forums, our site visits and, of course, our social events, such as the annual Barefoot Bowls and End of Year Celebrations. This year, we have had to fully transition to connecting our members virtually and I commend last year’s Committee for their efforts in laying the groundwork for us to continue upon. To date, YTP has successfully hosted virtual trivia, a panel discussion on the Evolution of the Level Crossing Removal Project in Victoria and virtual coffee catch-ups. We’re aiming to keep up the virtual social events and have some exciting technical forums in the pipeline. We are also working hard on revamping our website to increase our online presence and will be putting out a quarterly newsletter, of which this is the first!

While it has been a challenge adapting to an online presence, this has enabled YTP to extend our reach outside Narrm (Melbourne) and start connecting with professionals and organisations not only interstate but internationally. Our Communications Coordinator, Michael Greenwood, is based up in Meanjin (Brisbane), joining the most diverse Committee since YTP’s inception more than 6 years ago. We now boast Committee members from 6 different companies from varying professional backgrounds (not just engineering!), all committed to connecting the next generation of transport leaders.

None of this could have been achieved without the support of our industry partners: Metro Trains Melbourne, the Aurecon Jacobs Mott MacDonald Joint Venture and the Victorian Department of Transport. Their generosity has been integral this year, allowing us to access platforms that have enabled us to move to an online-only presence during lockdown. With the cooperation of these three great organisations, I am looking forward to growing YTP even further over the following year. I can’t wait to see what we come up with and hope to see you along the way!