Recently-retired Mike Baker's career spanned 30 years. Until his retirement, he was director of planning and head of GL Hearn's Manchester office. After graduating from South Bank University he spent six years at Montagu Evans where he became a chartered surveyor as well as a town planner. He moved across to GL Hearn to work on planning and CPO cases nationwide, rising to be a partner. After 10 years, he moved from London to the north west to set up planning teams in the firm’s Warrington, Glasgow and Sunderland offices. For the last 20 years Baker has acted for private- and public-sector clients in north England, specialising in retail and residential planning.
What are your current responsibilities and how are you measured against them?
My main responsibilities have been running GL Hearn’s Manchester planning team and, for a period, the whole office including corporate, business rates and building surveyors. Delivering turnover and profit, as well as growing the different parts of our business, have always been the main measures of success although raising our regional profile has also been a key responsibility.
What key lessons have you learned in your career?
A. Listen carefully to what your client requires and then provide it. Clients are most interested in the answer to a problem and it is easy to fall into the trap of providing too much extraneous detail. A bit of lateral thinking can go a long way.
Build good working relationships. Often a good relationship with a planning officer can lead to a more flexible approach being adopted to complex planning issues, while working very closely with a client usually produces best outcomes.
There is no substitute for high quality work. Well thought through arguments and good presentation of a case will always maximise the chances of gaining a successful outcome.