How do they do it? Carol Pyrah

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 4 Jul 2016

Carol PyrahCarol Pyrah wanted to be an archaeologist from the age of 12 but got interested in buildings and planning through summer jobs, including at an architectural practice. After graduating she worked for the Council for British Archaeology before joining English Heritage as an inspector of historic buildings in the east Midlands. Following English Heritage’s split into two organisations, Pyrah now works for Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment. She is planning director for the north east and assistant director of the national planning group.

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

I’m responsible for one of our nine local teams that provide development management advice. We have some pretty tough targets to meet and limited resources, forging partnerships are key to making sure we can achieve our ambitions. I have a six-monthly appraisal, monthly one-to-ones with my manager and from time to time we do '360-degree reviews' that seek feedback from people within my team, peers and external partners. We also do staff surveys on a regular basis, which give a picture of how each team is functioning.

What key lessons have you learned in your career that helped you fulfil those objectives? 

A. Always try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Planning and development are complex – understanding the world from someone else’s perspective helps you to build strong partnerships and meet objectives.

Understand what you are dealing with. Understanding how and why a place evolved improves professional focus.

Raise aspirations. Never stop seeking to raise career aspirations and those for the environment - they are important for professional development and hitting your objectives.