The things I know

Colin Williams, Associate partner in planning, Drivers Jonas, Manchester.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

I took a geography degree and then a masters in civic design at the University of Liverpool.

- What attracted you to planning?

Thinking of a career outside accountancy, the civil service or NHS management left few options. The clincher was a local plan meeting where one half objected to housing allocations in the green belt and the other asked for jobs not frogs.

- What did you learn in your first job?

I spent a year assessing the impact of a regional shopping centre only to learn that others have more influence - the Department of Transport directed refusal on highway grounds.

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

The ability to retain facts, ignore the irrelevant ones and recall information gives me wide-ranging strengths in the art of town planning. This is handy when advising on complex schemes.

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

A crisp thirst and hunger to absorb the job that I enjoy doing. My wife bemoans my reading Planning on a Friday evening over a glass of Wolf Blass 2004.

- What is your career highlight?

Perhaps the most significant was seeing my name in a major SERPLAN report on regional shopping centre provision around the M25, which shaped the first version of PPG6.

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

A general interest in the countryside, nature, gardening and the ability to find peace and quiet.

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

I began fly-fishing at the age of 40 and I would like to learn how to spot the best locations in a fast-moving river in which to cast the fly.

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

No matter which aspect of planning you work in, to ignore the influence and contribution of other professions is disrespectful and potentially downright dangerous.

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