Jeff Richards has a BA honours and masters degree in town planning from the University of Western England. His first job, in 2002, was for North Somerset District Council, but two years later he switched to private practice and took a post at WYG in Bristol where he stayed for 11 years, rising from planner to director, before leaving in 2013. He then joined Turley to direct its residential team and now heads up the firm's offices in Bristol and Cardiff.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
I still like to be involved in planning and working with clients but a lot of my time is spent on strategic and business development of the office, which covers everything from staff retention and internal training to actively seeking new business openings. We have annual appraisals and six-monthly 'catch-ups' that look at – among other things – whether we have hit monthly budget targets.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A. Understand your client. Client relationships are key to meeting objectives. They involve huge amounts of trust and you must understand their needs and motivations.
Accept you don't know it all. You need a strong team around you and you must trust them, so never shy away from building good, then better, working relationships.
Think out of the box. Finding solutions to planning problems often involves more creative, lateral thinking than straight reiteration of policy to tease out a solution that helps you achieve your goal.