How do they do it? Barton Willmore's Stephen Tucker

Written by: Jez Abbot
Published on: 21 May 2014
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Stephen Tucker

Stephen Tucker is a partner at Barton Willmore. He runs the practice's Scottish office in Edinburgh and heads up the business's northern design team based in Manchester.

He joined the company three years ago as a director and has been involved with projects including the Commonwealth Games athletes village. He is currently working on plans for a new harbour in Aberdeen.

Tucker, who graduated in planning from Strathclyde University and completed a masters degree in urban design and masterplanning from Heriot-Watt University in the mid 1990s, has also worked for councils including Glasgow City Council and Stirling Council.

Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?

A. Barton Willmore is one of the UK's biggest integrated planning and design consultancies and looking after ongoing client relationships as well as finding new clients is a key part of my job. I am judged on how I run and grow my office and the quality of the work we produce for clients and its impact.

Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?

A. You need energy and commitment. Since 2010 we have grown from a team of five to 11 people in Scotland and at the same time have grown the design team from scratch in Manchester. This has been done against a very difficult market and it takes enormous amounts of personal energy and team effort.

Planners need to be imaginative and innovative. Everybody, including competitors, is pretty good at what they do and the recession has left very few people in place who don't belong. This has increased the need to be able to find alternative ways to solve problems and navigate through tough situations be they tricky masterplan issues or planning requirements that are difficult or unreasonable.

They must be good communicators. Presentations to clients or committees can be crucial and need practice and preparation. I don't write prep sheets or rehearse but I do spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to say and how it will be received. The ability to 'read a room' is so important, you need flair and creativity but flexibility and modesty to know when to back down if needs be.