Ishra Baksh

Acting General Manager | Passenger Transport Strategy and Technology Branch (TransLink)
Department of Transport and Main Roads

  • Change agent
  • Future focused
  • Innovator
Based in: QLD
Modes: Rail Aviation Trams Ferries Busses
Make an enquiry
speaker banner

"With greater cultural representation across the transport workforce opportunities present to better understand different customer challenges, and design inclusive solutions."

Current position

  • Acting General Manager, Passenger Transport Strategy and Technology Branch (TransLink), Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR)

Previous positions

  • Executive Director, Mobility as a Service Program Management Officer, TMR
  • Director, Network Planning and Strategy, TMR
  • Manager, Business Performance, TMR
  • Acting Director, Central Operations and Support, TMR
  • Acting Director, Service Delivery Research and Performance Management, TMR
  • Senior Research Analyst, Service Delivery Research and Performance Management, TMR
  • Data Analyst, TMR
  • Graduate Assistant Data Analyst, TMR
  • Consultant, WDScott Asia

Career snapshot

Ishra Baksh is a senior executive with over 15 years’ experience. Her experience extends across the public and private sector environment, working in partnership with government and industry to drive positive outcomes for customers and communities.

She has particular expertise in emerging business models for transport, business improvement methodologies, customer experience, organisational design and customer focused technology.

Ishra is responsible for connecting people and ideas, taking a pragmatic approach to building programs that consider the broader landscape of transport, whilst focusing on tangible outcomes.

She is passionate about the future focus on mobility and the strategy around this, and how we work together to connect people to their communities.

symbol image

In her own words

I never imagined the passion I would have for transport. I genuinely believe in the impact that it can have on people’s lives and have witnessed it first-hand many times.  I come from a non-English speaking background and wasn’t born in Australia. I look within my own community and see the significant impact transport can have just by allowing someone to get out of their home and connect with others, go to work, go to school, meet their friends. We know that transport as an enabler helps address isolation and loneliness.  Remembering social outcomes in the work I do is important and the rise in personal independence by offering better mobility solutions to a community, particularly new members of a community like immigrants has great benefits. 

In my current position I am responsible for projects that enhance the customer and industry experience with government through technology, including ticketing and licensing I also led TMR’s work on Mobility as a Service (MaaS) looking at how customers can access different modes, how these modes will integrate, and the technology needed to achieve those linkages. From my perspective it is about ensuring MaaS is sustainable, inclusive and offers choice for our customers. MaaS is a new concept and we have completed extensive discovery work in our department and in the industry to help define it and create a program of work with a clear plan for Queensland.  In the beginning it was seen as a bit of a silver bullet that was going to fix everything, but it really is one part of the jigsaw puzzle that has the potential to improve mobility across our network

In Queensland we have a big and bold vision of a single integrated network accessible to everyone and there many pieces of a jigsaw that must fit together to make that vision come to life. With initiatives like MaaS, ticketing, and other digital products, the key is to develop these in partnership to  help us deliver on our vision. 

Building choice

Concepts like MaaS are all about offering people the right information in the right way to make different choices about how they travel across modes that are available on the network. It provides an integrated journey planning, booking and payment experience taking into account your personal preferences. For instance, you might prefer modes that are more environmentally sustainable or those which offer more speed or comfort, and these factors gets weighed up against the price of the journey. It’s quite tailored and personalised. In Southeast Queensland it works well because you have a range of different modes and really strong public transport which is a key prerequisite of MaaS. But in our regions, we may not have the same range of modes available to customers, nor the frequency of public transport. In these locations it involves bringing in new modes into the community to help customers move around. These could include micro mobility options such as e-scooters, e bikes or on demand transport where an under-utilised asset in the community could be activated using technology to become a bookable service,  taking customers to local hospitals or shopping hubs.

I think there is more opportunity in the future around commercial entities playing a bigger role in transport so the public sector can concentrate on improving the public transport spine.

MaaS makes the biggest impact where you have a first and last mile challenge like you do in Queensland. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by an international transport community over the past five years in the future mobility space. I have had the opportunity to learn from them and to see different perspectives of how things work in different countries (particularly Finland where MaaS started in Helsinki) and gained a broader view of what a mobility ecosystem can look like. The non-transport services that are part of the ecosystem are particularly interesting and many we hadn’t previously considered. Now we are seeing shopping centres, retail chains and tech start-ups wanting to be part of mobility to grow their businesses. This different array of really interesting service offerings may or may not have a place in our future transport network but being more open to what could be possible will help us do better for our customers.

We are approaching future mobility as a partnership between the public and private sectors and we as government are taking the lead investing in its foundation platform and sharing our learnings. 

Done better than perfect

The best advice I was given was to say yes to opportunities. Sometimes we can get into our own head and come up with a million scenarios about what could go wrong, but we need to instead focus on what could go right!  It’s also important to balance success over perfectionism - recognising that you are doing the best that you can and often the best you can do is amazing. A leader I greatly admire advised me that while you can have everything, you may not be able to have it all at once and finding your happiness lies in different things at different times of your life.  It was the best advice, and I will never forget it.

Sponsorship of women in their early career is so important and really helped me. I was given work in a new and emerging sector and told to go figure it out and it has been an incredible opportunity. People shared their networks with me, facilitated introductions and allowed me to continue to build these relationships.

I also believe that with greater cultural representation across the transport workforce opportunities present to better understand different customer challenges, and design inclusive solutions.

My vision for the next five years is …

...better mobility choices are embedded in our communities, with strong connections between our customers, industry, and partners ready to deliver for the Olympics and create a legacy beyond. 

Make an enquiry

Contact Ishra Baksh about an upcoming event you are planning.

Required fields*

Potential dates of opportunity