Tom Venables, director at AECOM Design + Planning, is part of 25-strong planning team. He is responsible for business development, project management and delivery, and team management.
Q: What are you objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
A: I work as part of a fairly small planning team - compared to other [departments] - within Aecom. I am responsible for project managing and delivering a variety of different planning commissions, business development and team management, along with my peers. It’s quite a collaborative place to work. We are tasked to define our own goals and objectives and then we are measured against them every six months. Part of it is financial, but a lot of it is focused on how you develop as a person, and how you work with other people.
Q: What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil these objectives?
A: Be open to working with different disciplines: I’ve been working for ten years now, and you learn so much from working with people from different disciplines. At Aecom you are always working with a wide variety of different specialists which I think cross-pollinates ideas and leads to a lot of creativity. [It’s about being] open to working with different disciplines and getting the best out of people. I think that’s really an important role that planners have to play.
Communication is important: To be a good planner you really need to be good at working with people… and I think a lot of planning is about really clear communication. I think the problem that planners often have is they often aren’t succinct enough. It’s being able to present quite complicated ideas to a variety of audiences.
Be aware of how planning fits within a commercial business: I’ve been quite fortunate recently to be part of Aecom’s first leadership potential group, which is enabling me to learn more about how the business is run. It’s teaching me a lot about how corporation is run. It’s not just planning; it’s how a big multi-billion dollar firm operates. I’ve been doing some interesting projects around project delivery, understanding the business structure and shadowing some of the leaders on the European executive team, and seeing how it all works.