Keith Thomas, elected this summer as an RTPI Fellow for his contribution to planning, started his carer at Milton Keynes Development Corporation before joining Chesterton Property Group where he worked on projects such as Cardiff Bay development.
He moved back to Wales to head up the Welsh capital operation of DTZ. Then in 2008 Thomas joined multidisciplinary practice EDAW, which became AECOM, to cover projects across Wales and the south west. Three years ago he set up PER Consulting based in Vale of Glamorgan.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
I offer consultancy on all aspects of planning, economic development and regeneration: rather than manage large multidisciplinary teams I provide a more personal advice mostly on areas such as strategic planning rather than dealing with applications. How am I measured on my objectives? Well, I'm solvent and making money; my client base has grown steadily
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A Peer engagement is very important. You can become over-isolated in your career, especially if you work for yourself, so its importance to maintain balance and variety in work and life. As well as consultancy, I'm involved with membership and ethics on the RTPI, am also a chartered surveyor and still find time to take the horses out at the end of a working day.
Always be open to new ideas. Try to avoid getting stuck in a rut by taking opportunities when they arise and not being too afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This will help you to build skills and confidence.
Surround yourself with challenging people. Don't be afraid to tell a client 'I don't know the answer'. After all, 'I can find out'. And don't shy away from working with people who know more about you on a certain topic – it can be fairly pointless recruiting staff or working with people exactly like yourself in terms of skills.