Smart Mobility Advisor Louise Baker, heads WSP Opus’ mobility team. Her role is extremely human-centred; exploring the evolving behaviours and technologies that impact modern-day mobility, and vice-versa. 

A big part of her role involves advising government bodies, city-planners and alike on best practice to achieve sustainable, accessible and economic mobility for all.

Many scientific branches come into play throughout Louise’s role. We sat down with her to discuss her career to date.

Who was your role model growing up?
David Attenborough and Jane Goodall. 

Who are you inspired by right now?
A crowd of people - I glean inspiration from podcasts, conversations, social media and magazines like Wired and New Scientist.   

How did you choose your field of study?
I loved biology at school and I wanted to understand more about the natural world. After I’d graduated, transport felt like an excellent area to take action because improving transport helps society and nature. Also, transport planning requires ‘systems thinking’ and biologists spend a lot of time studying systems.

Are there any challenges to the job?
Sometimes it can be tough to hold a lot of information in your mind and distil the wisdom from it. Answers often aren’t front of mind and you can feel stuck, so you learn to trust your brain’s back processors to process a batch of information and make sense of it. 

What are you working on now?
I’m managing a project for Auckland Transport that will guide how they support on-demand and shared mobility in Auckland. I’m also leading a piece of advisory work for the NZ Transport Agency that includes gathering a bunch of evidence from overseas

Are there any scientific innovations that still blow your mind?
Still? Science continues to fascinate me! I was impressed to learn that we’ve discovered that some jumping spiders produce milk for their young! A ‘white hole’ can bounce out of a ‘black hole’. And I learn new things that I can apply at work on a regular basis, for example new ways to measure wellbeing keep popping up. Science is incredibly cool.

What do you hope to see/witness in your lifetime?
I’d like to see the United Nations succeed in encouraging nations to stabilise their human populations - the human population has doubled since 1970 and continues to grow.  We can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet and ways to stabilise the population such as educating women, access to contraception and encouraging small familiesare very palatable. I hope that we can learn to live in balance with nature and stop plundering the planet.

What does your family think of your career choice?
My twin is also working in science and engineering, she sells carbon fibre to the space industry and has been on teams that designed satellites

What’s the best advice you’ve received (personal or professional)
Sleep on it (there’s science to back that up too!)

Louise & Will Fleming discus Smart Mobility on our Future Cities Podcast