The people behind the wheel: Lisa Simeon’s story, Transdev
For the latest instalment of Intelligent Transport’s exclusive ‘The people behind the wheel’ series, Lisa Simeon, Director of Active and Alternative Mobilities, delves into the challenges faced in bringing about change within a traditional transport operator, the positive impact of sustainable mobility on climate change and the potential for future advancements in the industry.
Can you tell us about your role at Transdev?
With my team, we contribute to encouraging changes in mobility behaviours by proposing new solutions that enrich the local transport offer”
I am the Director of Active and Alternative Mobilities at Transdev. In a few words, my job is to develop ‘new’ mobilities alongside traditional modes of transport, which include the metro, tram, bus, bus rapid transit (BRT), etc. This concerns the development of cycling, car-sharing or walking. With my team, we contribute to encouraging changes in mobility behaviours by proposing new solutions that enrich the local transport offer. This can include implementing a bike-sharing option to complement public transport networks for first- and last-mile trips or developing a new car-sharing offer for people to reduce car ownership in an urban area.
What inspired you to seek a career in the transport industry?
Working in mobility means having an impact on people’s daily lives – no one lives without moving around”
When I chose to work in the transport sector back in 2019, I did so because I was looking for a job that made sense and in which I could find a purpose. Working in mobility means having an impact on people’s daily lives – no one lives without moving around. I find it rewarding to know that my daily work has an impact on the mobility of thousands of people all around the world.
I also wanted to have an impact on climate change and develop solutions to help fight it. As transportation is responsible for a large part of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (about 30%), working for a public transport company also means proposing solutions to reduce this negative footprint by offering attractive mobility alternatives to daily solo driving.
Have you experienced any challenges in your role and, if yes, how have you overcome them?
Transdev is historically a transport operator. Engaging the company in a change to become a ‘mobility operator’ is complex and is part of a more global change management. My team is working to develop the maturity of the company and its employees on these evolutions and on the expectations of the customers associated with them. This transformation is taking place gradually, particularly through training, formal and informal discussions, as well as by highlighting great business successes to justify the interest in developing the activity and the transition going with it.
Has a career in transport changed your perception of the industry as a whole?
One of the things that I find striking in our sector is the involvement and commitment of our employees – they believe in their profession and in its impact on the daily lives of citizens”
One of the things that I find striking in our sector is the involvement and commitment of our employees – they believe in their profession and in its impact on the daily lives of citizens. We have the chance to work collectively while serving the common good, and this is felt daily at work.
Moreover, from an outside point of view, we sometimes have the impression of dealing with an industry that lacks innovation. This is such a reductive point of view! New projects in the networks and in operation are ongoing to offer an ever-higher quality service to passengers – digitalisation of processes, reaching maintenance excellence, improving our drivers and customers experience, etc. These are multiple innovations that affect our businesses and skills.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Currently, it seems complicated to know where we will be in five years’ time – the world is changing fast, and our sector is constantly evolving. New jobs will probably be created by that time. I assume I would still be contributing to the mobility sector for the reasons that I had mentioned earlier – the willingness to have a meaning, the sector’s innovation and transformation, the people within the industry, as well as so much more.
I try not to make formal plans, as I want to leave space in my career for surprise, continuous improvement and learning with positions that I didn’t imagine I would get to.
What key pieces of advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career in transport?
People love to talk about their jobs and would most likely take the time to answer some questions, which could help people find their way into the transport world”
Go for it! Transportation is an exciting industry and there is such a diversity of skills, backgrounds and opportunities that you will doubtlessly thrive there. However, if you find yourself uncertain about which direction to pursue, whether it’s choosing between a public transit authority, operator or original equipment manufacturer, or determining the ideal role, such as operations or support, I would encourage you to seek guidance from someone already working in the sector. I have discovered that people love to talk about their jobs and would most likely take the time to answer some questions, which could help people find their way into the transport world.
In the future, what do you hope to see become more commonplace in the transport industry workforce?
We believe that we could offer even better services if our employees better reflected our passengers”
I hope that there will be a higher feminisation rate of our workforce, at every level of the company – from our drivers to our C-level executives. We believe that we could offer even better services if our employees better reflected our passengers, and if there was an improved representation of women in our workforce. Many actions have already been taken at Transdev to improve this issue; for example, I am included in a programme in which nine women are mentored for a year by an Executive Committee member to improve our leadership and grow within the company.
In an ideal world, what do you hope the future of public transport will look like?
In an ideal world, private cars would no longer be needed. Thanks to reliable and personalised public, shared and active mobility solutions, everyone would have the ability to get rid of their private vehicles. Furthermore, I hope that these mobility solutions would be easy to access, easy to use and easy to combine to create intermodal, simple door-to-door trips.
Passionate about addressing the significant challenges within the transportation industry, especially in the realms of ecological and energy transition, Lisa Siméon has continuously evolved her career to align closely with these themes. Her journey began with valuable experience in strategy and management consulting, where she undertook assignments within the transport sector. In 2019, Lisa joined Transdev, focusing on energy transition matters, specifically in the domain of hydrogen mobility, as well as soft and alternative mobility solutions. Since 2021, she has been a key representative of the company’s expertise in these modes, including cycling, car-sharing and walking.