Alain Flausch looks back over the years

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After six years of dedicated leadership, Alain Flausch, UITP’s Secretary General, will be retiring his post at the end of 2017. Before his appointment as Secretary General, Mr. Flausch was an active member of UITP, as the Chairman of the Finance & Commerce sub-committee of the UITP Metro Committee (2001-2009), Chairman of the Design & Culture Platform, and President of the Association amongst other roles.

With an outstanding reputation in the public transport world, particularly in Brussels, Belgium—his hometown—Mr. Flausch is a well-known member of the community having contributed greatly to the progress of UITP and the sector at large. From 2000-2011, Mr. Flausch was CEO of STIB, the public transport operator in Brussels, where he led a complete renewal of both the company’s commercial approach and corporate management, putting customers at the heart of the service. He’s a business-minded man, a pioneer and idealist with high ambitions… and a fear of boredom.

We sat down with our man-of-the-hour to have a chat about his journey, his favourite moments at UITP, and what he plans to do next.
 

Did you ever imagine you would achieve so much in your career in public transport?

Looking back, I don’t think I ever quite envisioned a career in public transport, per se. I bounced around quite a bit with my interests and occupations. I started out studying law in Berkeley at University of California in the USA. Back in the ’60-70s while I was a student, we all wanted change—social inclusion and civil rights. This was when my passion for engaging with city planners and doing something that contributes to the good of a society began to take root.

So indeed, I never imagined myself having achieved so much in the public transport sector, but it would be wrong to say that I did not have high expectations for my future career in general. I was always quite ambitious.
 

How did you end up in the public transport sector?

Before my role at STIB, I had worked in many different industries. I would stay somewhere for a while, and then I’d get bored and I knew it was time to move on. But I was always good at one thing in particular—I was a good manager. So when I was informed by a head-hunter that STIB was looking for a new CEO, I knew nothing about public transport at the time! But STIB did not need an expert in mobility—they had plenty of those—what they needed was a boss. And that’s where I stepped in.
 

What are your best memories from your career at UITP?

There are many! I loved being able to travel and work alongside some of the biggest players in the public transport industry across the globe. For instance, working with the Mayor of Moscow, or being invited by the CEO of MTA in New York to provide assistance on particular issues was very exciting! Also, working on the UN high level advisory group on sustainable transport, set up by Ban Ki-Moon, was a big achievement. I’ll also always remember the day I was selected to be President of UITP in Vienna.

I am happy to have made UITP a more innovative and professional association, having become a real a ‘global player’, covering all continents, including the USA and continental China.
But in general, I would say the community of UITP is what I loved the most. The staff, the members… it was a pleasure to come to work with all of you every day. I had a lot of fun.
 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Actually the best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from my parents: always remain curious and forward-looking! Not as a formal piece of advice, but as a way of behaving, always be curious and ambitious.

Always be curious and ambitious

What does the future hold for you, Mr. Flausch?

Well, I think for me it’s time to rest. Although to be honest, it’s not something I’m used to doing. I have a lot of personal goals for myself. Just recently, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro! It was an incredible experience!

I definitely want to keep travelling and adventuring. I plan to split the next year between Switzerland and Greece. When I get tired of the snow and mountains, I’ll go to Greece; and when I get too hot, it’s back to the mountains for me!

Eventually, however, I know I will want to continue to do some work for sustainable mobility and the advancement of public transport. Who can say what the future holds, but I’m sure I’ll get bored of resting eventually…

Click here to read the full biography of Alain Flausch!
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