The things I know

Samuel Stafford, Associate, Drivers Jonas, Leeds.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

My degree at the University of Manchester gave me the grounding in sociology, human geography and property development needed for a career in planning.

- What attracted you to planning?

I had an interest in geography and economics, which I took at A level. Reading town and country planning seemed a natural progression.

- What did you learn in your first job?

It was with a house builder and I learnt about the property sector and the planning process. I became aware of the need to balance planning considerations with factors such as sales and marketing.

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

Understanding other people's positions is central to a constructive dialogue. To give clients the best advice, it is imperative to understand how they work and what they are trying to achieve.

- What is your career highlight?

Securing approval for major schemes gives a great deal of satisfaction, but smaller ones are often even more rewarding. Seeing the pleasure that securing a granny annexe brought for a couple with a very poorly elderly relative was particularly pleasing.

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

I can sit in my local pub and hear people talking about housing, traffic congestion, public services and house extensions. Engaging people in planning is vital to the promotion of the sustainable communities agenda.

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

Skills are best developed through the experience of different situations. I hope to continue to challenge myself in the belief that this will make me a more rounded, better professional.

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

The amount of other issues that planners need to be aware of is increasing all the time. Clients and communities need permissions that are actually deliverable so awareness of market considerations is also key.

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