The Things I Know: Jessica Topham, Operations director, Consense

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

Jessica Topham
Jessica Topham

A degree in communication from Cardiff University.

- What attracted you to planning?

The opportunity to engage normal people like me in decisions that affect how we live our lives.

- What did you learn in your first job?

In sales and marketing for agency 2Cs I learnt that to succeed you have to believe in what you do. This gives you confidence that rubs off on others. I also found I didn't like commuting.

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

The intricacies of the planning system and how to marry consultation techniques to project requirements and local and national policies.

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

Bob Woolliams, managing director at 2Cs, because he created the concept of our online consultation system that has enabled Consense to grow into a successful business.

- What is your career highlight?

When we are approached by reputable organisations to help them with community engagement. This demonstrates that people recognise the true value of what we do.

- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?

Experiencing the level of acceptance of renewable technologies in other countries while travelling has opened my eyes to how far behind we are in the UK. It makes me want to be part of improving people's perceptions of renewables in this country and, more widely, to broaden the reach of public engagement in planning in general.

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

Exploring how community engagement varies from place to place and what we can learn from it. Learning a new language too.

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

It's essential so we can be one step ahead and manage thorough consultation activity that contributes towards our clients producing solid, relevant planning applications.

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