The Things I Know - Simon McKee, Consulting group manager, Enviros Consulting Ltd

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

I took a geography and environmental studies degree at Liverpool Hope University, giving me an awareness of spatial issues to complement my raw enthusiasm for planning and the environment. I then did a diploma in environmental management at the University of Liverpool and another in town and country planning via distance learning.

- What attracted you to planning?

The chance to make a positive difference and protect or enhance those places we take for granted.

- What did you learn in your first job?

Not to get frustrated. You can't know everything but you can know where to look for answers.

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

Diplomacy, patience, people management and when and how to apply your knowledge. I'm constantly learning from more experienced colleagues and watching how they react to various scenarios.

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

Unscrupulous operators. I have worked in the public and private sectors - for and against them - and I know how divisive they can be.

- What is your career highlight?

Winning a complex enforcement appeal at public inquiry after a lengthy grilling from a barrister.

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

That people have different motives and you sometimes need to try and see beyond what's in front of you to have a full grasp of a situation.

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

As many planning-related skills as I can. Effective planning and continuous professional development are inextricably linked.

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

Extremely. It is essential to step back regularly and appreciate the wider picture. Other professions can offer valuable insights and solutions to important planning questions.

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