After graduating in planning at Newcastle University in 2000 Colin Robinson worked for the multidisciplinary practice Arup in its Newcastle, London and then Manchester offices, gaining expertise in transport, masterplanning, policy and strategic planning. He then moved to NLP in Newcastle, focusing on retail planning, before switching offices to Manchester where he is now planning director, tackling economy and housing need for local authority and private sector clients.
What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
As planning director I lead our economics team; we were recently commissioned by Cumbrian authorities to look at the economic benefits of achieving housing targets and we are doing more infographics – distilling a 25-page report into a one-page graphic for presentation and consultation events. I am appraised twice a year by my line manager where we look at annual targets such as securing two new clients in the 12-month period, targeting more strategic housing market assessments, or selling 10 infographics to a client. We revisit these every six months to check progress.
Q What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil these objectives?
A Never turn away work. You can almost never be too busy - the key is to delegate – and taking on more work focuses your efficiency and ability to learn new skills.
Pro-actively seek the work you find most rewarding. No-one else will steer your career for you, so if you don't like transport planning, grab a specialism you do like, such as housing.
Devil is in the detail. Planning is statistics based, yet the key issues are often more complex than the cold data of numbers, so you should always dig deeper to challenge the numbers even those from the organisations such as the Office for National Statistics.