How Do They Do It? Tom Woof

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 9 Jul 2014

Tom WoofTom Woof is head of planning at Carlisle- and Durham-based chartered surveyor H&H Land & Property and is recruiting graduates and planning assistants with a view to expanding planning the firm. Woof was awarded a British Empire Medal from the Queen recently for services to community planning following his work as chairman of the Upper Eden Community Plan in Cumbria - the first neighbourhood plan to be put to a referendum. He has worked for councils in Wigan, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Brent and Oxford and graduated in planning studies at Oxford Brookes University, where he gained an urban design diploma.

Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them? 
My objectives are to build the consultancy into a recognisable planning brand and eventually as a separate business that will form another part of the H&H Group. I am measured in turnover and, ultimately, profit, but the company is not target driven in a highly corporate way. It is half owned by the staff and has a pleasant collegiate feel to it.

Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives? 
A Don't take yourself too seriously
. It's too easy to sound pompous, especially in a professional environment like planning; a willingness to laugh at yourself can help diffuse stress and add to your professional longevity.

Always look at things afresh.  This will will help you cut through the morass of reports, studies and language that many planners fall back on to prevent things being done. Don't be one of those planners that slip into the habit of looking in the same old, same old ways.

Don't be afraid of taking on new experiences. Don't underestimate the usefulness of experience; the depth of your knowledge is not always apparent but will shine through when it matters – my local authority experience was invaluable in learning how councils work as a group.