This is the first in a series of profiles of some of the great people who work at Woods Hardwick. We kick off by meeting one of our Planning team, Alistair Rokas. Alistair joined Woods Hardwick in October 2017 as a Graduate Planner.
What sparked your interest in planning?
I first discovered an interest in planning during an undergraduate visit to Welwyn Garden City (WGC). I was studying Geography at University of Hertfordshire. The visit included discussions regarding how WGC was planned and the underlying ethos that underpinned this process. I was taken aback by what a great place WGC was to live in and this led to my interest in the process of planning and the role it plays in shaping modern society. This interest ultimately flourished and culminated in me undertaking a dedicated post graduate in Sustainable Planning.
You joined Woods Hardwick straight after your post graduate degree. How did you find the transition from university into working at Woods Hardwick?
On joining Woods Hardwick, I quickly began to appreciate the scale and complexity of the role and the planning system in general. While my education was useful, it could not have fully prepared me for the complexity of the job. I found that working in a small team with close contact with the Directors and other senior people meant that I was very quickly immersed in the professional setting and introduced to a broad spectrum of work to complete. The multidisciplinary nature of Woods Hardwick was also very favourable. As a planner, your role is as much about project management as it is about making planning related decisions, and having the other disciplines located within the same building enabled me to develop an intimate understanding of how the various divisions – planning, architecture, engineering and surveying – feed into the business, but also in terms of managing the role they play in the planning system in general.
How has your role changed since joining Woods Hardwick and what do you think has contributed to your success?
Almost two years in, I feel that I have come on in leaps and bounds. I’ve taken on a varied workload and am beginning to take a more primary role in the running of projects. While I have worked hard to prove I am capable of taking on more responsibility, my colleagues have been pivotal in giving me the confidence and knowledge to allow me to continue developing my professional acumen. Their willingness to help, combined with their breadth of knowledge and years of experience are invaluable to my ongoing progression and I value them greatly.
What are the projects that have stood out for you and why?
I have already worked on some interesting projects in my time here – ones that stood out include a residential development at Everton Road Potton, residential development at Sandhill Close, Millbrook, HIMO Appeal in Northampton. These projects stand out as they represent instances where I have taken on a more primary role in their submission and management, and we ultimately achieved a positive outcome for the client despite significant challenges along the way.
So, Alistair, what does the future hold?
Moving forward, I hope to continue building my knowledge and professional acumen to allow me to take on more responsibility in the future. I want to continue building my career at Woods Hardwick. The opportunities are excellent and there is very much a culture of ‘hard work gets noticed’, which encourages me to get my head down and continue progressing my skills – and in a multidisciplinary company working on a range of high profile projects I feel I have a lot to give in the future – and who knows, one day I could be part of planning another Welwyn Garden City of my own!
We are currently recruiting a Graduate Planner in our Bedford office. If you feel inspired by Alistair’s journey with us and would like to join our team, take a look at the role on our careers page.