The Things I Know - Steve Quartermain, chief planner, DCLG

- Where did you study planning?

Chelmer Institute, now Anglia Ruskin University.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

Doing a part-time postgraduate course I was able to put planning theory into practice on the job. I gained a belief in planning as a good thing to do and in the importance of putting people in the equation.

- What attracted you to planning?

My geography degree included a planning module. Looking at early place-shaping and social history in the context of human geography triggered a vocational calling.

- What did you learn in your first job?

An ability to listen, negotiate, accept that I wasn't always right and how to get to Southwold.

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

Presentational skills, the ability to manage, the benefits of delegation as a means of empowerment and most importantly to think laterally and take risks.

- Who or what have been the biggest influence on my career?

Family friend and planner David Grove showed me how a geography graduate could get his first job. Since then, a number of people have helped at work and in the planning activity I have done outside.

- What is your career highlight?

Becoming chief planner is top. But there are a number of outcomes that have made people's lives better.

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

Families are important and children are funny - but become a source of annoyance when they start to win the arguments.

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

I would love to improve my French.

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

It is vital that planners see themselves as part of a wider canon of people who plan. It is therefore important to take a holistic approach to delivery.

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