Originally from eastern France, Benjamin completed his studies in Regional and Urban Planning at the London School of Economics. His first Transport Planning role was for 5 West London Councils where he managed a Travel Plan to promote Active Travel and Public Transport at over 400 development sites. He was then involved in Walking & Cycling strategies, and in the introduction of station-free bike-sharing in a London Borough. In the private sector, he gained experience building a parking start-up to serve the car-sharing industry (London) and dipped into the world of E-Scooters at Lime (Melbourne and Auckland). Now with Abley, he is broadening his expertise to Planning Policy Reviews, Masterplanning and Business Cases.
What made you decide to become a Transportation Planner?
While my background is in Political Science and Urban Planning, I got particularly interested in Transport Planning through my Master’s Dissertation. I wrote about the political and lobbying processes that led to London’s “Cycle Superhighways” getting built. The technicality of Transportation Planning and its direct impact on people’s daily lives have always made it a very meaningful field.
What did you do before joining Abley?
I travelled the east coast of Australia, lived in Melbourne doing backpacker-type jobs, and then joined Lime scooters working in Operations. I moved across the Tasman staying with Lime in Auckland until I joined Abley. I have seen, deployed, retrieved, and fixed thousands of scooters and got invaluable insights into the shared mobility industry.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The diversity of projects I get to work on! I used to have niche skills in active travel and shared mobility but every new project at Abley is an occasion to learn. I have, for example, discovered the business case approach practised by the NZ Transport Agency, and how benefits of traffic schemes can be forecasted. On other projects I gained insights into topics as varied as aviation radar technologies, planning parking for a touristy town centre in the South Island, and measuring walkability.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Having not trained or worked in NZ before, I often need to catch up on local policies, standards and regulations. This requires an extra effort in every project but is also enriching as I am able to compare NZ practices with my experience in other countries.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Building a start-up in London was both very challenging and exciting. I learned a great deal about innovation and business development, and I was surprised to find the same spirit at Abley, where new ideas are always considered and encouraged.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Road tripping around New Zealand and trying all the local wineries and breweries!