The Things I know - Ben Ford, Director, RPS Group

Where did you study planning?
The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London.

What skills did you have when you graduated?
My real skill was the ability to meet people and get on with them no
matter what their background. This has helped immeasurably in obtaining
clients' confidence.

What attracted you to planning?
My father worked in surveying and I did summer work with him.

What did you learn in your first job?
A summer placement allowed me to shadow the planners and to obtain an
understanding of what they do on a daily basis.

What skills have you had to learn?
A diploma in surveying from the College of Estate Management showed me
how developers view the process. It is vital to understand clients'
needs and aspirations. A year at B&Q as in-house planning manager helped

What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?
The directors I have worked for, in particular Roger Birtles. They
taught me basic skills such as timekeeping, professionalism and
accountability and gave me the responsibility and trust to stretch
myself and develop.

What has been the highlight of your career?
Regular promotions, culminating as London's youngest planning director.

What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?
To enjoy myself and have fun. Any line of work can be extremely
stressful but a balance must be struck.

What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?
The ability to build a team and pass on skills to new graduates.

How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied
You have to maintain an interest in the property market as a whole.
Planners meet consultants from many fields and have to understand the
challenges and issues they face. This helps when working as part of a
wider project team.

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