event write up, North West committee

Plan Your Career: The Nine Pieces of Key Advice Every Professional Needs to Hear

Jill Bell – Chair | Women in Planning North West

Sara Todd – Deputy Chief Executive | Manchester City Council
Victoria Hessen – Managing Director | Gladman Developments
Rob Haslam – Planning Director | Savills
Vicky Hughes – Head of Town Planning | Blayze Group

The packed-out event featured those fresh onto the Planning scene as well as some more experienced professionals, all eager to hear advice from inspirational speakers from across both the private and public Planning sector. Jill, Chair of WIP NW, kicked off the evening by laying out the objective of the evening; to encourage all those who attend to achieve their goals, whatever their goals might be: “it might not be reaching the top, it might even be reaching the end of the week, or overcoming a small personal challenge.” Following Jill was Sara who discussed her role in City Council during the devastating Manchester terrorist attack in May, and how her experience and knowledge gained over her career had informed her action. Sara also shared advice gained from her career in the public sector. Victoria followed, discussing the lessons learnt in her career to reach Managing Director of Gladman Developments from her MA in Town & Regional Planning. Vicky and Rob teamed up for the closing session, Vicky using her insight of working with Planning organisations for the past fifteen years and Rob with his experience working in both the public and private sectors.

1. “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

Sara Todd emphasised how important it is to be kind and understanding in the workplace and how key it is to recognise when a co-worker needs to talk, and to put everything down to accommodate that. Victoria followed up on this with “having a sense of humour and being kind are two of the most important things I’ve learnt in my career.”

2. Relax!

Victoria Hessen highlighted the significance of not worrying about where your career is going; “more often than not, if you work really hard, things will happen in the right way to you.” Victoria recounted reading every ‘business book’ she could get her hands on, and how, when she came across the advice “serious women in business don’t wear cardigans” she thought it was time to give them a miss!

3. ‘Imposter Syndrome’

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is that nagging doubt in your head that you can’t do something, that we’ve all experienced. Victoria’s response to this is “call yourself out! You’ve earned your right to be here!” The panel also agreed that people are rarely born with confidence, but it can be learnt over time perhaps with the help of a mentor, which will be essential when it comes to selling yourself in a job interview.

4. Write Your Goals Down

“Writing your goals down will make them seem more real to you and then you’ll be more likely to go on and achieve it”, Victoria emphasised. Begin with the “end” in mind, then formulate a plan around how you’re going to get there. Continually reviewing your goals is also important; they may change or the route to get there may adjust (and that’s fine!) Whether they’re small goals you want to achieve by the end of the week, or larger goals you want to achieve in the next decade!

5. Feedback is Key

Vicky Hughes expressed how essential feedback is from all angles (your manager and your peers) in your Learning & Development journey; “if you can be critical of yourself, although it can be difficult, it’s incredible what you will learn. Asking for feedback is imperative for your progression. If you are able to do this, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position.”

6. Word of the Evening: Mentor

Mentoring was a consistent thread throughout the whole evening or, as Rob Haslam calls them, ‘Career Crushes’. “Find someone whose job you’d love to do,” says Rob, “take them for a cup of tea! No one is too mature for career coaches.” Rob was keen to point out that mentors are not just for professionals just starting out, but for all levels of experience; Rob has known Senior Management, including Chief Executives, who have mentors “as the learning journey doesn’t finish.” The entire panel also concurred that a mentor outside of your business, and even outside of your specific sector, would provide fresh insight onto your progress.

7. Take Control

Remember, you can’t control everything; “you can’t force your employer to promote you and you can’t force your employer to give you a pay rise. Look at what you can control and focus on that. Take personal responsibility for your career – it’s you who decides how you want it to pan out.” Rob followed on from Vicky to point out “as a manager, employees who are willing to look at new areas of work and develop new projects are of great benefit to me.”

8. Personal Brand

Vicky Hughes: “perception is everything and you can influence it – you need to understand what everyone’s perception of you is to inform your development in the future. Finding out what makes you unique is essential to this; what is your differentiator and how will this benefit your employer?”

9. Time Management

During the Q&A towards the end of the session, an attendee, someone who Rob has previously managed, described a time management technique that Rob has recommended to her; “separate your tasks into categories and then block out time to complete them. Keep your e-mail shut when you’re focusing on a task and work out when your most productive hours are; if it’s in the morning, do the strategically-focused tasks then.” Sara also shared how she always took half an hour for lunch to regain headspace from the day which is always blocked out by her secretary.

“It’s okay to enjoy the job you’re in! You don’t always have to think about the next thing – it’s as simple as that! Your goal doesn’t always have to be reaching the top, it could be about reaching the end of the week, or reaching your dream project.”

*Blayze Group are proud to support Women in Planning. As a values-first recruitment consultancy, our priority is to ensure the best outcome for our clients and candidates always.

By  from Blayze Group

This article was first published on Blayze Groups website – click here to view.

 

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Events, networking, North West committee

Plan- Your Career with our North West Branch – 8 March

 

Picture1Whether you are a student at the start of your career, or are unsure how to achieve your current career goals, whatever they may be, join Women in Planning North West  for an interactive and practical session on how to develop and progress your career, sponsored by Blayze Group with leading Planning and Recruitment Executives.

Hear from and be inspired by influential women representing both the public and private sectors of the profession (Speakers to be confirmed very shortly), followed by Rob Haslam from Savills and representatives from Blayze leading a session on confidence building and how to achieve what you would you would like to achieve from your career.

Date: 8 March 2018

Time: 18:00 – 20:30

Location: Blayze Group Business Lounge, 53 King Street, Manchester, M2 4LQ

Price: Free but booking is essential.

Click here to book. 

Article, networking, North West committee

The Value of Networking: A Student’s Perspective

A seasoned networker will know all about the do’s and don’ts of events, but ask a student on the cusp of entering the big bad world of the graduate job market and you’ll most likely be met with a blank stare while their head whirs with the realisation they’ll need to learn, and learn quickly. An increasingly competitive career market calls for a more robust skills base, which extends beyond the top-of-the-league-table degree. University can often feel like a bubble, where students are shielded from the real world with the reassurance of ‘get a good degree, and you’ll make it’. I hate to be the person to tell these students that, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Yes, you can write a 1st class essay on the implementation of green infrastructure in urban design, and your knowledge of rural diversification is very impressive, but how firm is your handshake?

I learnt early on in my university experience that soft-skills matter. The simple ability to look a person in the eye makes the difference in selling yourself as the kind of person they want on their team. However, most students will tell you their course includes little to do with networking and associations; in many cases students learn about networking post-graduation. But surely these are skills we should be developing from the out-set and throughout? Wouldn’t it be good to enter the business arena with the basic skills of interaction? The answer is yes, yes it would. Developing these skills helps us make those all-important connections in the industry, enabling that foot-in-the-door or a step-up-the-ladder. We’ve all heard ‘it’s about who you know’, and that is why I got involved with Women in Planning. If it’s about who-you-know, I decided to get to know people.

 As a student, it can be very daunting to enter a room with experienced professionals, however if joining the North-West Committee of Women in Planning has taught me anything, it is that these professionals want to encourage and support those entering the industry, as well as those already established. I have made connections with people from all sectors, offering advice but also interested in listening and learning from others. Women in Planning provides an inclusive environment to meet and develop connections, with women from all stages of life and positions welcome to get involved. It is this inclusive environment which sets Women in Planning apart. We strive to encourage those on the path of career development, supporting their journey through the glass ceiling, and we support those with other priorities in life who want to remain connected to the industry. Supporting women of all career stages has developed a diverse pool of experience, providing opportunities to make lasting connections. As a woman just starting out in a career, experiencing this approachable atmosphere has been very reassuring as it is clear that support extends to women of all stages, positions, and ambitions.

Introducing women to the world of networking at an early stage in their career breaks down the perception of networking as a daunting challenge, and demonstrates that networking is in fact an enjoyable and social affair, providing the opportunity to meet like-minded people. We all know networking enables us to expand our knowledge and develop ideas, but experience in networking also helps us recognise opportunities. An offer of a placement, a request for a product or service, and employment openings may appear as passing comments in conversation, and it is these fleeting opportunities which we must learn to seize to take full advantage of the benefits of networking. Developing a confident and sustained presence in the business community is vital in building connections, and the sooner we start establishing our presence the better.

Women in Planning North West will be holding a launch event and details will be released soon. Please get in touch with us for details at womeninplanningnorthwest@gmail.com

K Airey

Kimberley Airey

Student of Environment & Planning

University of Liverpool

North West Committee Member of Women in Planning

LinkedIn: Kimberley Airey