How do they do it? James Hobson

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 15 Jun 2015

James HobsonSignet Planning director James Hobson graduated in town planning at Bristol University in the 1980s and went into private practice at Chapman Warren. This was taken over by multidisciplinary practice RPS at the turn of the millennium where he stayed for about four years. Keen to “get back to basics and offer pure consultancy” he helped set up Signet Planning. This year the firm, with bases in Harrogate, London, Nottingham and Newcastle, celebrated its 10th anniversary.

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

My role is to run the business, manage growth and co-ordinate the teams in our four offices, which I  balance with day-to-day practice and ensuring workloads are managed effectively. We recently created a forum to encourage feedback and new ideas and to review performance. It gives us more focus and direction and keeps us, as directors, in check.

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

A. Planning is a political football. It is an ever changing and dynamic, so it helps to keep abreast of regulations, legislation and policy changes to ensure your advice is always sound.

Build a solid reputation. You are only as good as your last job and will often rely on repeat business; you therefore need to ensure every time your advice is robust and commercially and sustainably viable.

Collaboration works well. Working in partnership to set objectives and key goals early on is more likely to bring confidence to all parties, even on the most complex projects.