How do they do it? Roger Smith

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 4 Apr 2016

Roger SmithRoger Smith gained undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in planning at Manchester University and joined Swindon borough council in 1984. Four years later he moved into private practice at Chapman Warren and the DPDS planning consultancy in Swindon in the mid 1990s. The following decade was spent at housebuilder Westbury Homes, taken over by Persimmon Homes, and in 2007 he moved back into consultancy by joining Savills in Oxford. He is now director of planning.

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

I manage the planning and urban design team of 15 people and work with clients including land owners, housebuilders and land promoters on mostly residential projects but some commercial and education work. I balance lots of day-to-day planning work with managing the department. We have annual and six monthly reviews but if there's an issue we deal with it immediately. 

What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil these objectives?

Integrity at all times. One of the challenges in consultancy is occasionally a client will want you to say something you might not feel entirely comfortable with: don't say it or you risk losing the respect of clients, colleagues and planning officers.

Be prepared. Never try to wing it; if there's an important meeting coming up find the time to prepare for it properly.

Be positive. Planning is a roller-coaster career and sometimes things don't go so well, but if you have a positive attitude, they invariably work out well.