The Things I Know

Susannah Guest, Senior planning officer, Planning Inspectorate (PINS).

- Where did you study planning?

Cardiff University.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

Creative thinking and a real sense of responsibility for my future.

- What attracted you to planning?

Originally I wanted to gain a better understanding of urban form and function, why places exist and how they work. The varied opportunities in the profession have kept me interested and motivated.

- What did you learn in your first job?

How to meet deadlines - and how to negotiate extensions to them. Academic principles may be right, but a healthy dose of pragmatism is required for them to work in practice.

- What skills have you had to learn over your career?

Confidence, the skill being in developing, maintaining and using it wisely. I've also learnt to manage people, time and anger!

- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?

Changes to the development plan system in England provided new challenges and opportunities at a key time in my career. Stephen Crow had an unrivalled knowledge and sense of humour. Simon Farmer and Leonora Rozee at PINS offered extensive knowledge and mentoring.

- What is your career highlight?

Being awarded Young Planner of the Year. But there were many highlights on the way, not least witnessing the success of my team members, such as Judith Montford's contribution to the Tomorrow's Planners scheme.

- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?

Travel broadens the mind. And, as Einstein said, today's problems cannot be solved if we think the way we thought when we created them.

- What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?

Strategic and people management.

- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?

Spatial planning cannot happen in a vacuum. Communication across professions must help delivery.

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