Planners tend not to shout too loudly about their profession. As one individual contacted in the course of producing this article wryly observed: "There is no cult of personality among planners as there is among architects." While it's the architects who get to do the high-profile stuff, the work of the planner tends to remain very much behind the scenes.
And yet such is the ubiquity of planning in so many different aspects of life that professional planners have a great deal to offer in many spheres. Planning, after all, is not just about approving house extensions; its influence extends into almost every facet of contemporary living, and the role of a planner can involve grappling with some of the most complex problems facing modern societies.
This article forms part of Planning's Guide to Careers 2012-13. The full guide can be read here.
In an attempt to find out just how influential planners can be, Planning sought out the views of a wide variety of sector experts, planning academics and commentators on who they thought were the most eminent planners in the UK.
The intention was to identify individuals who, with the foundation of a town planning qualification, have risen through the ranks to positions of power or prominence within related or unrelated fields.
The group of 20 individuals that our research identified provides an insight into the many and varied careers to which a planning qualification can lead. Apart from identifying a knack among planners of attaining positions of power within Scottish politics, the group reveals few trends. But that is, of course, significant itself: a solid grounding in planning can set you up for all sorts of roles. While vocational, the skills attained in studying planning have wide application.
Click through for the 20 most powerful qualified planners in the UK.