I studied town planning at South Bank Polytechnic and urban design at the Polytechnic of Central London.
- What skills did you have when you graduated?
Broad social science and theoretical planning knowledge but little grasp of problem-solving.
- What attracted you to planning?
A love of geography and architecture and a fascination with the future. I naively assumed that by 2001 we would be living in a more ideal world. That seems like a long time ago now.
- What did you learn in your first job?
I realised that the UK planning system can be frustrating but has a depth and flexibility that are very attractive and the envy of planners overseas.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
I have been advised to read the Financial Times more by property experts with whom I work closely. I have also come to appreciate the value of urban design. I believe that townscapes determine attitudes.
- What or who have been the biggest influences in your career?
Experienced development control colleagues who could cut through red tape and enable good schemes to happen in a reasonable timescale.
- What is your career highlight?
Negotiating permission for a major cancer research medical park in Hertfordshire was particularly satisfying.
- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?
Life is a race against time and society does not steadily improve without strong teamwork.
- What further skills do you need to obtain or develop?
How to persuade developers and councils that pushing projects forward in a recession will be worth it in two or three years' time.
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?
Town planners are by nature generalists, so taking the broad view requires a good understanding of allied professions.