The things I know

Beatrice Nichol, Assistant planning officer, Scottish Borders Council.

- Where did you study planning?

I took a fast-track masters in urban and regional planning at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

Presentation and report-writing, combined with six years of previous experience in information services.

- What attracted you to planning?

I wanted a job that was creative and challenging.

- What did you learn in your first job?

So far, I have learned how to write environmental reports and carry out a multitude of surveys as background research. I am now working on a local plan amendment, which is teaching me about site analysis and selection.

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

Project management experience from my information services work has helped in my new profession. I am also learning how to use geographical information systems effectively and communicate across the disciplines.

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

Julie Preston introduced me to planning while I was working in Herefordshire. Marilyn Higgins taught me urban design at Heriot-Watt. My manager at Scottish Borders Martin Wanless gives me continual encouragement.

- What is your career highlight?

Winning a travel scholarship to Montreal and delivering a paper at the Planning Summer School. I studied the urban design toolkit being developing to masterplan the city.

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

To have the belief that I can make things work out in difficult situations.

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

Further specialism in urban design by studying for another masters. I would like to develop my drawing skills.

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

It is very important because planning is influenced by a multitude of issues that must inform decisions.

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