The things I know

Trevor Roberts, Consultant director, Trevor Roberts Associates (TRA).

Where did you study planning?

Geography at the University of Cambridge taught me how to analyse. I then studied planning at the University of Manchester, where I learned how to jump to conclusions.

What skills did you have when you graduated?

Fewer than I thought.

What attracted you to a career in planning?

My family was rehoused as a result of "urban regeneration". Planning came to me rather than the other way round.

What did you learn in your first job?

In local government regeneration and implementation, I gained practical experience of how development gets off the drawing board into reality.

What skills have you had to learn over your career?

Opportunism - but to recognise opportunity you must first have a vision. The best is the enemy of the good, so waiting for the perfect result may mean ending up with nothing.

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

My wife Jane, who encouraged me to set up as an independent housing and management consultant in 1984.

What is your career highlight?

I have had several careers, so highlights include writing a book on housing renewal in 1976 while I was a local government officer, being director of housing for Ipswich, which was a privilege for a planner, and the RTPI report Planning for a Multi-Racial Britain, from which so much developed. Then there was serving as RTPI president in 1998-99 and the party to celebrate 20 years of TRA in 2004, attended by about 100 people who had been associated with me.

What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?

Much from reading John Ruskin.

What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?

Basic Italian and Spanish.

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

It is not enough to keep abreast, you must work with other professions. Planners excel when doing this.

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