Do you want to know more about the people leading the way on active travel in South Essex? We are pleased to share with you a new feature on the Ideas in Motion website… Face of Active Travel. This month we meet Helen Akpabio, Sustainable Travel Planning Manager at Essex County Council. Helen is passionate about encouraging people to take up active travel, and would love for you to join in too!
1. When did you start your current role and where had you worked before?
I live in Chelmsford, joining the County Council 14 years ago and have been working in my current role for the last 10 years. Prior to working here I started off my professional career as a hairdresser when I left school at 18. Since then I’ve gone on to work as a waitress (alongside developing my IT skills), in market research and then finally for a small Public Relations firm in Billericay, before securing an administrator role at Essex in the Transport Team.
2. Why did you want to work in active travel?
I’ve always been keen to keep fit and stay active, so to encourage others to do the same is right up my street.
3. What’s the best thing about your job?
I love the diversity of my role and the variety of projects I have the opportunity to get involved with. One day I could be developing a strategy and the next running a display stand or assisting companies with their travel surveys.
4. What are you working on at the moment?
Supporting the different work stream managers to ensure we’ve got consistency of what’s available across the south of the region. Also working with Love to Ride (an online platform committed to getting people cycling by using behaviour change techniques) to ensure we have a good take up for their national campaign ‘Ride to Work Week’ in March.
5. Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career…
Running the Chelmsford Marathon in 2016 – training and completing this in a respectable time of 4 hours 30 minutes made me realise that if I could do this, then I could put my mind to anything!
6. The person who has influenced you the most is…
Too difficult to name just one person, so I’d have to say my family.
7. Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?
Definitely running – I always feel better once I’ve been out for a run (no matter what the distance).
8. Something about you people would find surprising…
In my younger years I used to play the keyboard, since my Dad has recently reminded me he still has my old one in his loft, I’ve decided to give it another go. Hopefully I can remember some of the chords; otherwise I fear my husband and the rest of my family may need to invest in some ear plugs until I’ve mastered it again!
9. What’s your greatest fear?
10. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
George Michael (if he were still alive) – I just adore that man
Miranda Hart – because she’s hilarious
Gordon Ramsay – just to see if he actually swears that much in real life!! Plus he can do the cooking… J
11. What would your super power be?
12. What’s your favourite food?
Mostly everything, I just love food – but a particular favourite would have to be my Mum’s stew and dumplings – I can never make it quite the same.
13. What’s the worst job you ever had?
Temping for a market research company – despite being based in a small office with other colleagues, this was probably the loneliest job I’ve ever had.
14. What thing would improve the quality of your life?
Having more time to do the things I enjoy.
15. What’s coming next for you?
Focussing on the challenges ahead and trying to engage with those people who are located in the Basildon, Castle Point and Rochford areas to encourage them to take up active travel. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in being involved with SEAT.