We talked to Nick Veitch, the Chair of the AITPM Transport Modelling Network
I lead Veitch Lister Consulting, a team of over 60 curious transport professionals specialising in transport planning, modelling and data analytics.
I have been working at VLC for the past 17 years, starting out as a Strategic Transport Modeller back in 2004. I have developed new models, maintained existing ones and applied models on city-shaping projects such as Sydney Metro, North East Link, Melbourne Metro and Canberra Light Rail. While spending my early career gaining more technical ‘hands-on’ experience, in 2014 I moved into the role of Chief Operating Officer and focussed my attention on building a great business (as opposed to building new transport models!) – a business that people would be proud to work for. In the past 4 years VLC has doubled in size, opened offices in Sydney and the UK – the latter which saw globally renowned transport consultant Tom van Vuren joining our ranks earlier this year.
In September 2021 I took over the role of National Chair of the AITPM Transport Modelling Network (TMN), a branch of the AITPM. I am fortunate to lead a diverse committee that covers nearly all areas of the country as we strive to improve the transport and land use modelling industries.
What is your current role?:
Managing Director at Veitch Lister Consulting (VLC)
What first attracted you to get involved in the transport industry?
I guess it’s fair to say I grew up within the transport industry, with my father Mike starting VLC in the mid 1980’s. I vividly remember as a young child Mike pointing out various bridges, railway lines and other infrastructure and declaring proudly that he had contributed to the planning of each. The one that sticks in the mind the most is the Merivale Bridge Railway Bridge across the Brisbane River between South Brisbane and North Quay / Roma Street (it looks a bit like a coat hanger).
Both my brother (Tim Veitch) and I originally had no plans to work within the family business. We worked for VLC in a part time capacity during our studies and quickly grew to love the development and application of strategic transport models. This passion meant that our studies took a backseat and the rest is history (as they say!).
Prior to his passing in early 2020, Mike was very proud of his legacy with VLC and that his two sons were leading the business going forward.
Could you explain some key opportunities in your career and how they contributed to your development?
Looking back, I think some of the best opportunities I’ve had can be categorised as working with great people and working on great projects.
Very early in my career I was very fortunate to work with some of the brightest minds in transport planning and modelling at VLC including Terry Scholes, Gary Hunter and Chris Turvey. Each of them contributed to my professional development in different ways.
Projects that are fond in my memory are developing multi-modal transport models for Greater Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in 2007-2009, and working on Sydney Metro in 2009-2010. Sydney Metro was such a high-pressure environment (we had 5 of us flying into Sydney each week for an extended period) and gave me exposure to the pace of major infrastructure projects.
What has been involvement with AITPM to date?
I first became aware of the AITPM in 2008. I attended the AITPM National Conference in 2011 in Melbourne where VLC took up the option of having a trade display/booth. Since then, I can only recollect missing one National Conference, with it being something I look forward to each year.
VLC have been proud National Sponsors of AITPM since 2016, and we remain committed to supporting the AITPM going forward, having recently signed on as Industry Partner for the next 3 years.
In the last 3 months I have taken on the role of National Chair of the AITPM Transport Modelling Network (TMN) and feel grateful that I can now contribute back to the industry that has served me so well. I’m really keen that as a committee we make a difference to our industry.
What are your aspirations for your contribution to the AITPM?
Now being in the hotseat as National Chair of the TMN, my personal aim is to work with our committee to drive the industry forward and hopefully leave it in a better place than when we each got involved.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
At VLC we pride ourselves on innovation. In 2012 I had a bit of spare time between projects and (with my colleague Lauren Walker) decided to use the time to develop a multi-modal model of the ACT. Fortuitously, the Canberra Metro (Canberra Light Rail) started to heat up in 2013 and our model was super strong in public transport forecasting. The model we built ended up underpinning the business case for both Stage One and Two of the Canberra Light Rail.
Is there a challenge/problem that you have experienced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I think this COVID period has probably been the toughest period for me personally and for a number of people I speak to within the industry. Going to a completely remote workforce in March 2020 was a challenge, and there was a lot of uncertainty about what this global pandemic meant for our people, our business and the broader industry.
It is amazing how resilient we are as humans and we’ve been able to adapt.
What are your personal and/or professional career plans for the future?
To lead a sustainable business that takes care of our people, our clients and our communities.
Do you have any advice you would like to share to professionals in the transport/traffic industry?
I have three pieces of advice:
Find your passion – working on areas that interest you make it so much easier to get up in the morning.
Find a good mentor – someone that can be a sounding board that can give you career advice (from someone who has been in your position).
Learn from great colleagues – identify and imitate the colleagues who make a different to their clients and communities.
In a somewhat ‘call to arms’ I would also encourage all transport practitioners to challenge the status quo. We need to improve the way our cities are planned and ensure the right investment decisions are made.
What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
I have two VERY active sons in Tom (5) and Will (3) that keep me busy outside work playing cricket, soccer, golf or any kind of sport with them. I have a lot of fun with them building Thomas the Tank Engine trainsets to develop the next generation of budding transport planners.
I also play Masters Soccer at Ashburton United through most of the year.
Anything else that you’d like to share?
I’m a diehard fan of English Premier League club Everton. The Veitch’s have a strong connection to the club with Tom Veitch (my Great Great Uncle), originally from Dumbarton in Scotland, came down with his brother William to play soccer in Liverpool, UK in the early 1880’s. They were the centre-half pairing for Bootle FC (the club no longer exists), with Tom being the captain. Tom played 3 games for Everton which resulted in a family love of the club going through the generations. My two sons (no surprises named Tom and Will) are very big supporters of Everton now.
I’d like to finish by wishing everyone involved in AITPM a Happy Holidays and looking forward to what 2022 brings.