Rebecca Thompson

Place Skills | Friendly competition

When I started my career in property, it was because I wanted to deliver something tangible, something that would be good for society, writes Rebecca Thompson of Wallace Land Investments. There is an enormous satisfaction in helping to deliver places people to live, work and socialise.

And it is in fact socialising that helped me enjoy and progress my career in the built environment.

I’ve always looked to gain a range of experiences – working within the legal sector, consultancies and now at a land promoter. A diversity of experience gives you the opportunity to learn and grow and to face and solve problems, both personally and professionally.

And where you don’t have the experience yourself, you can gain it by getting to know other people with wider experience. It’s become clear to me that to advance my knowledge and skillset, it has been tremendously important to grow my professional network.

As a young woman in a male dominated industry, this was – and at times can still be – intimidating. Yes, changes in the industry are needed, but it’s through exposing myself to these experiences that I have been able to gain confidence in presenting and delivering myself and holding my own in such environments.

The best way to grow a network is simply to put yourself out there and engage in conversation. Everyone is in the same boat at networking events, and making that effort to approach someone new and leaving your comfort zone is vital. You never know what skills and experience a new contact might have that you can draw on later.

Having contacts across the legal sector, within technical disciplines, at consultancies and within other land promoters has been helpful for me. Having these sounding boards available, and not being afraid to use them, can make all the difference. Though, word to the wise, avoid trying to sound out ideas at 5pm on a Friday.

In planning and land promotion, we are all (hopefully) trying to achieve the same outcome – planning consent that genuinely delivers sustainable development to the benefit of an area. And although we are in competition with other strategic land promoters and developers, there are some mutual benefits to be made.

We can often come together to demonstrate a strong and united front in the face of Local Plan reviews or changes at a national level.

Many strategic land promoters did so recently, discussing their concerns with one another in respect of the revised National Planning Policy Framework.

Sounding out different ideas with one another in an attempt to make robust representations is one of the best ways to actually have an impact and to get the most out of your job.

This applies beyond planning and land promotion. It’s an important lesson to learn; whilst we are in competition there are times and circumstances where more progress can be made for the wider industry when we set the competition aside and share our ideas.

  • Rebecca Thompson is strategic planning manager at Wallace Land Investments

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