Russell Fairlie


Celebrating 25 Years at Ratio with Russell Fairlie





Celebrating 25 Years at Ratio with Russell Fairlie

We are pleased to mark Director: Transport Russell Fairlie’s 25th anniversary at Ratio!

Celebrating 25 Years at Ratio with Russell Fairlie

Russell joined the Ratio team in May 1999, drawn to the company’s reputation and culture which he has continued to grow throughout his tenure.

Below, Russell reflects on his work, highlights, and learnings of his Ratio years so far.

Tell us about how you came to work at Ratio ‒ what are some of your earlier memories as a young transport engineer?

As a young Council Traffic Engineer, I had been aware of Ratio and the fact that they were a multidisciplinary firm in the areas of transport, strategic Planning, statutory planning, and landscape architecture. After becoming a Transport Consultant with a purely traffic engineering firm, I was given the opportunity to join Ratio, and jumped at the chance to work with an integrated transport and planning team.

I joined Ratio in May 1999 and was well aware of the excellent reputation and capabilities of Russ Symons and Jeff Wolinski. I was encouraged to work towards a Director’s role and get involved in some key projects in Victoria and interstate. Ratio was a much smaller firm in those days and the transport and statutory planning teams only had a relatively small staff component. It was a great opportunity to build the teams and some selective recruiting, in particular Colleen Peterson and David Crowder, gave us impetus to grow the team and recruit key personnel, and get involved in many great projects.

How have you retained your passion for transport engineering and leading the direction of your team?

I developed an interest in traffic engineering in my final year at university and then developed a passion for implementing traffic management and safety improvements at a number of Councils (Caulfield, Heidelberg, Newcastle, Kew and Boroondara) whilst completing a Masters of Traffic and Transport Engineering. I had the opportunity to get involved with a transport consultancy firm and embraced the opportunity to work at Ratio

I appreciate the influence that transport professionals can have on creating better and more sustainable cities and communities.

What kept you with the Ratio team?

Ratio has worked hard over the years to provide a great culture to work and engage with other staff and provide a good work/life balance to encourage staff to remain long-term at Ratio. I have embraced the opportunity to become a Director and have enjoyed working with new fellow Directors and Associates, helping mentor junior staff, and then watching them develop and become successful long-term staff members at Ratio.

What are some of the bigger transformations within the organisation that you’ve observed over the years?

The key transformations at Ratio over the years have been the strong growth of the company, focussed on the transport and statutory planning divisions, and then the growth of the waste management and urban design teams, with more recent circular economy and landscape architecture teams. This has also included the creation of separate offices in Geelong and more recently in Brisbane and Sydney, with a focus on expanding right along the east coast of Australia. The Melbourne office has expanded from offices in Richmond and Cremorne to our new high-premium offices where the full Ratio Melbourne team will reunite on one level. The business services team at Ratio has also grown from a low-key administrative role into a key business, marketing, and development unit.

Is there a project you’re especially proud to have worked on? What have been some career highlights?

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a wide range of projects since my early days at Ratio, including numerous road safety strategies for urban and regional Councils in Victoria, some key integrated transport and parking projects for some large urban Councils in Victoria, a number of large mixed-use developments, with many approved at VCAT. I have particularly enjoyed working closely with several key architects, developers, and external consultants, and maintaining long-term and fruitful relationships with these key people over many years.

Do you have a favourite memory spent with your team?

It’s been great to witness the growth of the company and individuals, with a significant increase in the number of Directors and many young Transport Engineers and Planners becoming key players at both Ratio and within the industry. It is clear to me that Ratio is in great shape going forward and I look forward to further contributing to and then just observing the future growth of the company.

Any advice for young pros just setting out in their career?
  1. Develop a passion for particular aspects of the Transport system.
  2. Adopt a desire for lifetime learning and I continue to seek to learn and grow each day.
  3. Embrace the office culture and engage with your fellow staff.
  4. Be responsive and aim to keep advice clear and concise.