Interview with Stephanie Stewart of Citi Logik: Working in the male-dominated sector of transport planning  

Stephanie Stewart, known as Steph, has been working at Citi Logik for five years following previous roles in the transport planning sector, and is now a Senior Analyst.

Citi Logik is a British technology company that helps organisations across many sectors and environments understand people flow and journeys using anonymised mobile network data (MND). Stephanie’s role is to make sense of MND and present insights to clients.

She graduated from university with a master’s in physics and her first role was in risk and reliability assessment for the oil and gas industry. She transferred into the area of transport planning and went to a presentation in which Citi Logik was mentioned as a new player in the field. 
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“Coming from an analytical background, the data we had to work with for all the decisions on transport links was pretty poor,” she said. “I could see mobile network data was a promising area. I went on the website and everything in the job post fulfilled what I wanted to do. I applied and here I am five years later.”

Working in a mostly male environment is something Steph had experienced for a long time. “Doing physics at university, everything I have known has been a male-dominated environment. It is just the environment that this industry is at the moment. I have encountered one or two females in similar roles, but it is never the majority.”

However, she does not feel she suffers as a result. “I don’t find it is an issue and don’t feel that I am disadvantaged - maybe this is because I don’t know any different. But I do believe that in a small company that every individual is judged on their own basis, and you get a much more person-centred approach. Recently, I went on maternity leave and, being a new mother, I need more work-life balance than someone else might do at the moment. When issues have come up with the children, Citi Logik has always been very accommodating and understanding.”

Steph believes that the industry as a whole could do more to increase diversity.

“The transport planning sector could do more outreach. It would be good to attract more STEM students, for example. I did physics and didn’t know about transport planning. The industry probably is missing that pool of talent.”

She is also a firm believer in a diverse group of people bring more creative solutions to the problem. “More diversity can only be a good thing. More women will result in a different approach to problem solving, mainly due to our different experiences in the world.”

The projects Steph has enjoyed most at Citi Logik have been the ones involving creative thinking. One assignment involved developing a transport model for the whole of England. “The sheer amount of data involved meant that we had to upgrade the software. The old methods were still valid, but could be improved. It made us think outside the box about how we could be faster and more efficient.”

She also liked gaining a new insight into a different culture on a project in Kuwait. “It was really interesting because of the differences in how people travelled. Nobody walks there. Everything is by car and at midday it is too hot so nobody is around. That all showed up in the data.” 

Steph would recommend transport planning as a career to anyone interested in working with data. “I don’t know how obvious it is that there is a way of working with big data in transport in the way that you can in other industries such as finance. I find analysing  data interesting, but the fact that you are modelling people movement gives a kind of depth to the work. The data has a physicality to it. You create real world applications that have a direct positive effect on people’s daily lives.”

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