On graduating from the University of London with a BSc (Hons) in geology and geography, the only skill I had was the ability to absorb facts. However, the three years in the capital opened my eyes to the historic environments at a time when conservation was emerging as a specialist area.
- What attracted you to planning?
A postgraduate course in town and regional planning at Glasgow University under Sir Robert Grieve provided an opening to work in protecting the historic environment.
- What did you learn in your first job?
Setting up an inventory of historic buildings and sites in a six-county area west of Chicago, I learned the need for thoroughness. There is rarely a chance to return to a piece of work.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
To develop an encyclopaedic memory of dates, facts and planning law on the historic environment. To enthuse those I meet with the specialist area of planning and design.
- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?
A privileged colonial upbringing in the West Indies, lengthy travel in Europe, a good public school education and the opportunity to work in significant historic areas of the UK.
- What is your career highlight?
The nine years involved in the regeneration of London Docklands, involving the rescue of some of the country's most important historic buildings and structures.
- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?
Through travel that while we are not perfect in the way we protect the historic environment, we have much to teach other nations in this field.
- What further skills do you aim to obtain or develop?
Encouraging other professionals to become passionate in the protection of the historic environment.
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?
A good knowledge of developments in allied professions is essential.