Richard Allen studied town and country planning at Newcastle University before heading for London-based consultancy TPC to work as a graduate planner. He joined the National Grid in 2006. National Grid owns more than 500 former gas works sites. Evolution of the gas industry means these sites are no longer needed to supply gas to communities, leaving surplus brownfield land with potential for new homes, businesses and open spaces.
What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
I am responsible for managing this surplus estate, which means maximising the value of these sites while minimising our risk. A good example is our residential portfolio joint venture with Berkeley Homes, St William, which aims to create 14,000 homes in London and the south east over the next 15 years. Measurement of objectives is based on how well we maximise the potential of our most valuable sites before entering joint-venture partnerships and going to market. This involves securing planning consent or allocation within a development plan and removing development constraints.
What key lessons have you learned in your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
Welcome change. Many people fear change, but change is an opportunity. Every time I have been involved in change in an organisation, I have used it to my advantage.
Play to your strengths. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. My career progressed because I focussed on my strategic strengths.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Always be clear what the end game is, whether it’s what your stakeholders want, what your boss wants, or what you want. It’s easy to lose sight of your objectives on the journey.