I wanted to be a journalist so having obtained GCEs I completed a business course including shorthand, which most of those I was competing with did not possess.
- What attracted you to planning?
I am passionate about getting things done and like working with people who feel the same. Planning brings together the thinkers and the doers.
- What did you learn in your first job?
As a cub reporter, you have to get things right first. Politics and local government fascinated me because they affect people's daily lives.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
How to listen to everyone's views, crystallise them and determine if they are achievable. Being a councillor helped enormously.
- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?
Working with people who recognise that everyone should be valued. This inspired me and prompted one former cabinet minister to tell me: "You cultivate people like some people cultivate geraniums." People having absolute confidence in you can be very empowering but being arrogant reduces the power to do things.
- What is your career highlight?
Helping a client who had 15 enforcement notices against him.
I persuaded councillors to agree to 14 retrospective applications locally and the 15th - a landing pad for a helicopter - was won on appeal.
- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?
Giving everything your all. It is not good enough to have a thirst for success, you have to work for it.
- What further skills do you aim to obtain or develop?
Improved research skills so we can face the challenges of providing a better quality of life for those living in new communities.
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments of allied professionals?
Vital, since as a team player you need to understand and respect other people's strengths.