How do they do it? Neil Gray

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 11 May 2015

Neil Gray

Rapleys' partner Neil Gray has nearly 20 years’ experience in town planning across Scotland and the north of England. He graduated in geography at Dundee University and did a masters in rural planning at Aberdeen University. Gray started his career at Fife Council before moving to engineering consultancy Halcrow where he did a town planning diploma at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. In 2008 he moved to landscape architect and urban planner Edaw before joining Colliers and spending eight years at the property consultant. He joined Rapleys six months ago.

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

As head of the planning team in Scotland my role is business development and promoting the Rapleys' brand as well as to provide advice on planning. I'm appraised by our head of department, but feedback from clients, officers and councillors also forms an important form of appraisal.

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

A. Be proactive. We survive by giving good advice but our job is as much about networking, mediating, advocating and getting to know people rather than simply relying on tendering processes.

Listen and respond. The changing economy has thrown up lots of change: you have to listen to what clients want but take on board other potentially conflicting views from councils or bankers.

Be aware the answer is not always what you want to hear. Be prepared to take feedback from other members of staff including graduate planners – it gives you a more rounded view and makes you more open minded.