Smiths Gore partner Lachlan Robertson wanted to be a planner from the age of 13 after seeing an exhibition in his home town. He graduated in the subject at Dundee University in 1983 and landed his first job – after applying for more than 100 posts in the depth of a recession - at North Wiltshire District Council. He spent the next 25 years at the authority and rose to head of planning policy and performance before setting up his own consultancy in 2009, focusing on major urban extensions. Last year he joined Hives Planning before it merged with Smiths Gore.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
I undertake strategic planning assessments for clients to check development potential of land. For example, estate owners may have land that could take major development and I will liaise with the landlord, developer and council. We have formal assessment processes and regular reviews – as any good firm will – but the real test is are you bringing land forward, meeting the requirements of the client and being successful. Success can be hard to measure in the short term and may take many years to show. But a good, supportive organisation will be prepared to take the long view.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A. We work in a democracy. I have to remind myself from time to time, but we work in a democracy and being right is rarely enough – you have to exercise your powers of persuasion and be attuned to the political environment around you.
Savour your mid-career years. Because that is when you are at your most idealistic and have enough knowledge to do something about it.
Let your career take you where it does. There are surprising, interesting things ahead of you, so let them happen.