Do you want to know more about the people leading the way on active travel in South Essex? Each month we introduce you to a new Face of Active Travel. This month we meet Nav Tung, Principal Transport Planner at Thurrock Council. Nav is passionate about encouraging people to take up active travel, and would love for you to join in too!
- When did you start your current role and where had you worked before?
I started working at Thurrock Council in April 2016, so nearly two years. I began my career at the consultants Atkins in 2006, where I did a short stint working at Southend Borough Council between 2007 and 2009. In 2013, I moved to Newbury and worked at West Berkshire Council, before working for Thurrock.
- Why did you want to work in active travel?
I studied for a Transport Planning Masters after doing a transport planning module while on a study abroad in America. I graduated in 2006 from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and a week later I had started my job at Atkins. As part of that role, I worked in transport policy, covering all aspects of transport and transport policy. As my career has progressed, I have worked more and more in the field of sustainable and active travel, and now my role at Thurrock is to lead the team which promotes walking, cycling and sustainable transport.
- What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I get to make a difference. Sometimes it is small, others bigger, but you get to help the public and communities. Sometimes, you’ll have a project which is recognised and appreciated by the communities, and that always feels special.
- What are you working on at the moment?
As the Strategic Lead for the SEAT project within Thurrock, I am responsible for ensuring we undertake the project within our area, working with stakeholders. I’m also working on a range of other projects, including working with partners to improve air quality in the borough, and working to develop a new Freight Strategy to manage HGV’s in Thurrock.
- Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career…
In 2010, I was made redundant from my job at Atkins. I wouldn’t want to ever have to go through that again, but I gained so much from it. I took the chance to go travelling, and spent 6 months in India. After, I moved to Newbury to join West Berkshire Council, and I met so many great people who helped me move forward, and gain confidence and belief in myself. That job helped me to want to commit my future to local government, and gave me broad experience in sustainable travel, and helped me take on my current role at Thurrock Council.
- The person who has influenced you the most is…
There have been many people who have had influence on me, but the one person who sticks out is a man called Edgar Weekes. I rented a room in his house when I lived in Newbury, but he helped me to grow in confidence, and gain self-belief, and helped me through some difficult times.
- Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?
Outside of work, my main hobby is playing hockey, I LOVE it – training on Tuesdays, and matches on Saturdays, regardless of the weather, and after the season ends Summer time can feel a little empty.
- Something about you people would find surprising…
I met my wife through MySpace. I really wish I had invited Tom to my wedding, he was our mutual friend.
- What’s your greatest fear?
Spiders! And missing the ferry to/from work each morning and evening.
- Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Merkel, Putin, a Russian translator, and a dose of Trump to get that fire roaring.
- What would your super power be?
Sometimes when I am out and about, I can approach a glass door, I can wave my hand and they open. I think I’m special!!
- What’s your favourite/least favourite food?
I hate cucumbers, and honey, and I’m not a big fan of prawns. I love fast food, especially burgers, and bbq ribs. And cake, pies, biscuits, doughnuts….mmmm…doughnuts..
- What’s the worst job you ever had?
I’ve never had a bad job. Though I did have a short stint as a cleaner at a shop in Bluewater, though I wasn’t really asked back after about 2 or 3 weeks. My first job was working in a bike shop when I was 13, with a paper round on top.
- What thing would improve the quality of your life?
Better driver behaviour! As a cyclist, I’m fairly confident on the road, but there are times when I’m absolutely fearful of my safety while getting to and from work. Thankfully, I’ve never had an issue when I have my little one on the back.
- What’s coming next for you?
There is plenty of stuff to do with work, and we are looking at getting in two new recruits to support walking and cycling within Thurrock. Outside of work, I’m off to New York in March, and I hope to get to Philadelphia for a day or two as well.